Eat Pray Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s three a.m., and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her 30s; she has a husband, a house and they’re trying for a baby – but she doesn’t want any of it. This is a hilarious travelogue and a quest for spiritual enlightenment in the face of natural scepticism.
Phew, thank God that’s over!
It took me a while to finish “Eat Pray Love”, and I must say, I was disappointed. Having seen the film appear on Netflix a few months ago, I decided I wanted to read the book before watching the film.
This autobiographical story follows Liz, a woman in her 30s looking to escape the loneliness and depression of her previous life. Divorcing her husband and falling in and out of love with another guy, she decides to leave it all behind to travel to what she dubs the three ‘I’s; Italy, India and Indonesia.
“Because the world is so corrupted, misspoken, unstable, exaggerated and unfair, one should only trust what one can experience with one’s own senses.”
Gilbert divides her book into three parts; 36 tales in each section totaling 108, the number of beads in a traditional japa mala or rosary. The book continues on a rather religious and truth seeking theme as Gilbert tries to find herself, learn a new language and let go of the past. I understand that many women love this book and the reviews prove it; the first page is dedicated to praise for the author, one of which states that “every woman should read it.”I beg to differ.
I didn’t find the author to be likable, coming across as whiny, needy, self absorbed and a little selfish at times. It often felt like she actually wanted to be a victim with both the book and the film skirting around the break down of her marriage leaving me with the view point that perhaps the breakdown was her own fault. The fact that her publisher paid her upfront to undertake this journey of self-discovery had me a little wary too.
While optimistic at first, each section seemed sluggish and dragged out and I found myself skipping chunks and chapters that just didn’t add to the story at all and couldn’t retain my interest. I evan began to feel a little bored right at the beginning of the book where the author spent whole chapters justifying her use of the word “God” and how she feels other words are also acceptable but not any more accurate and blah..
Gilbert’s time in Italy did not bore me; she ate, she learned the language, she made good friends, she ate some more, she put on weight and she accepted it. India, however, was dull. Gilbert stayed at an ashram, a place for meditation, and in these chapters we were subjected to very very long examinations of her struggle to meditate, her relationship with God and other personal experiences. While I appreciate the honesty, sadly I don’t think these things are interesting to anyone else. After India, Indonesia seemed so much more human and realistic and I had a particular fondness of her relationship with healer, Wayan. Honestly, this was the only section that had me interested but by this point I had all but given up.
Despite all of this, I wouldn’t say it was all negative. There were some parts that I enjoyed and some quotes I can really connect with. Gilbert’s experiences were occasionally comic and provided some light relief to the sometimes serious nature of her year abroad. I particularly enjoyed Gilbert’s relationship with food, accepting that appearance is not important; if you want to eat it, eat it.
“The food at the Ashram is vegetarian, light and healthy. But still delicious. Which is why it’s difficult for me not to wolf it down like a starving orphan.”
Overall rating: A disappointing 2 stars for a book I just couldn’t enjoy no matter how hard I tried. Dragged out, sluggish and whiny yet interspersed by engaging and interesting chapters, sadly this story of self discovery was just not for me.