Synopsis: In an attempt to heal after a bitter divorce, Gilbert travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia, for pleasure and spiritual devotion, and ends up finding love.
Date finished: 2 May 2015
Comments:I read Eat, Pray, Love when it came out in 2006, and I loved it then. Now I can say I love it still. I know a lot of people have issues with this book, saying it’s a middle-class white woman having a self-indulgent breakdown that she heals by running away and living abroad for a year, indulging in a lot of pasta, prayer, and sex. And at face value, you can’t really argue with that. My stance is: I’d never deal with heartbreak this way, but if you can, if you feel you need to, and if you come away with a book as gorgeously written as this one, have at it, sister!
Here’s a secret. In real life, I cannot suffer Elizabeth Gilbert. I can’t get through her TED talk, and I regrettably watched a home video of her selling her house in which she almost certainly was “altered” (or else she’s a stranger form of bird than I knew). I don’t identify with her spiritual practices nor her romantic decisions, but here’s the thing: the woman can spin a yarn. She’s capable of great depth, and she doesn’t take anything (love affairs, neuroses, spirituality) at face value. She examines everything, and then she writes from the center of the experience. She’s a generous writer, a wordily precise writer.
I made myself re-read this one without taking notes or marking passages, forced myself to just be present in the prose and let the words and experiences wash over me. It was a wonderful experience.
I also listened to a bit of the audio, narrated by Elizabeth Gilbert herself, and hearing some of those passages I remembered so well, in her voice, with her inflictions, sometimes gave me goosebumps. So, I’d recommend the audiobook as well.
Also, it must be said, although I came of age with Julia Roberts movies so that she’s a part of my identity as a woman…she’s no Elizabeth Gilbert. The movie is just wrong, wrong, wrong. It left out all the wrong things [that stateside road trip in which she sends her petition out to the world and people “sign it”], altered some of the best things [did they really have to make her Brazilian lover—now husband—20 years younger and a whole lot hotter?], and just generally squeezed the passion out of the book and discarded it. If your only experience is with the movie, I beg of you, give the book a read.
Yes, most every woman should read this one.
You might also enjoy:Committed, her follow-up to this book, about marrying the man she met in Indonesia.