Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Serious summary of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth GilbertAt the age of thirty-one, Gilbert moved with her husband to the suburbs of New York and began trying to get pregnant, only to realize that she wanted neither a child nor a husband. Three years later, after a protracted divorce, she embarked on a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gustatory, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for “balancing.” These destinations are all on the beaten track, but Gilbert’s exuberance and her self-deprecating humor enliven the proceedings: recalling the first time she attempted to speak directly to God, she says, “It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, ‘I’ve always been a big fan of your work.’” 

My two cents

I decided to read this because: I’ve heard the hype and I’m not one to be turned off by it; in fact I could be missing out!

First line: I wish Giovanni would kiss me.

The book in one sentence: All expense paid travel – to unabashed pig-outs in Italy, prayer in India, and balance in Bali, Indonesia – does wonders for a young divorcee’s search for spirituality.

Who would you recommend it to: This verges on chick lit so I wouldn’t recommend this for a man. At all.

I liked:

Gilbert’s writing style – she’s very easy to read, she’s funny. But maybe this is this book’s only saving grace. Oh, and I loved the cover of pasta, beads and flower petals forming the words “eat pray love!”

I didn’t like:

The feeling that Gilbert wasn’t telling all, that she was taking her readers on a ride by giving a sanitized version … or maybe because her insights were shallow and not as earthshaking as they really were? Overall I had a feeling that the whole spiritual journey was contrived and put together for the sole purpose of selling the book. Do you go on a journey self-discovery by planning to go to three countries, with the eat-pray-love concept so wonderfully, magically fitting together? Methinks not.

Ok, she’s also quite funny. Hyper in fact. But it can get tiresome quick. Trying to be witty chapter after chapter will definitely get old sooner or later. I had a sense that she was trying too hard to encapsulate her learnings which sounded sorely of bumper sticker slogans.

I wanted to shake my head at some of the crazy things in this book. She realizes that she doesn’t need to travel to learn what she does (but since her publishers’ footing the bill, heck why not?), she very nearly gets scammed by the medicine woman she “loves” (and yet she somehow comes to terms with it). I also hate the fact that she, like many Westerners tend to romanticize all things Eastern or anything remotely foreign – the whole section in India seemed to trivialize religion and spirituality (read the random quote below – someone please explain to me what she meant).

Random quote:
So now I have found out. And I don’t want to say that what I’ve experienced that Thursday afternoon in India was indescribable, even though it was. Simply put, I got pulled through the wormhole of the absolute, and in that rush I understood the workings of the universe completely. I left my body, I left the room, I left the planet, I stepped through time and I entered the void. I was inside the void, but I also was the void and I was looking at the void, all at the same time. The void was a place of limitless peace and wisdom. The void was conscious and it was intelligent. The void was God, which means that I was inside God. But not in the gross, physical way – not like I was Liz Gilbert stuck inside a chunk of God’s thigh muscle. I was just part of God. In addition to being God.
I wish I had never caught that interview on evening where Oprah was interviewing Elizabeth Gilbert. Apparently Oprah was so enamored by the book that she devoted two entire shows to it! I was actually enjoying reading the Italian leg when I had to watch that fated show. Do you know those times when Oprah ingeniously is able to get the whole room clapping as to how great she is for overcoming the odds? (I just can’t help rolling my eyes at how self-absorbed she can sometimes). Well, Gilbert is of the same mold – she was spouting her witticisms, nodding her head to Oprah’s “I love this part” then reading whole sections. What Gilbert said on the show was exactly the same as what’s written in the book, more or less verbatim. I guess I was looking for the “inside story” but she never said anything not already in the book.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed her descriptions of traveling and how honest she is that she is not living the life she wants. But really, I had to shake my head and sigh at how a spiritual journey can leave such a sour taste in the mouth. Needless to say, I was not inspired.

Verdict: Hey, to each her own. I have a love-hate relationship with this book. It has its moments. Worth giving a try. But I think this is the last Gilbert book I’ll read! 

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© guiltless readingMaira Gall