Eat, Pray, Love: One Women’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. Published in 2006.
Synopsis: In her mid-thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert finds herself recently divorced, severely depressed, and not getting what she wants out of life. A surprise and generous book advance allows her the opportunity to spend a year abroad in search of herself: four months in Italy in pursuit of pleasure, four months in India in pursuit of spirituality/devotion, and four months in Indonesia in pursuit of finding a balance between the two.
About the Author: Prior to publishing this New York Times best-selling memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert was already a published novelist who also worked as a journalist with several different magazine publications, based in New York City. Her sequel to Eat, Pray, Love – Committed: A Love Story – was published in 2010.
My Initial Reactions to this Book
With all the hype surrounding this book, the film that had been released, and my love of travel, I’ll admit that I’m a bit late in reading this book. After reading Gilbert’s short introduction – in which she discusses her plans to enjoy great food, devotedly practice yoga, and find balance in her life – I was sure I would love this book . For these are also a few of my favorite things.
Alas, I began reading this book a little over a week ago on an intercontinental business trip and really had a hard time getting into it. In the first section of the book (on Italy), I wanted to hear less about Gilbert’s messy divorce and complicated life, and more about Italy. There, I’ll say it: I found her to be a little (obnoxiously) whiney.
The second section (on India) was a little more entertaining to me. I’ve been practicing yoga for just over 7 years now, a practice I began when I lived in South Africa. I find the Americanized version of yoga too watered-down, and I’ve always dreamed of spending time in an Ashram. In this section, I really appreciated Gilbert’s anthropological anecdotes about ashram living, the people she met along the way, and her quest to find spirituality and tame her mind.
By the time I finished the third section of the book (on Indonesia) I loved it! Maybe it is because I too am currently seeking balance in my life? Also, I have never been to Indonesia, so this was the most ‘foreign’ of the three places to me. Now, I definitely want to go to Bali ASAP. Also, while in Indonesia, Gilbert seemed to have already found herself and began a number of interesting relationships (Ketut, Wayan, Felipe, Yudhi). The book was no longer just about her. This new, mature version of the author was way more enjoyable to read.
So what did you think of the book? Have you been to any of the places where Gilbert travelled to? Did you enjoy one of the 3 sections more than the others? I’m curious to find out what other people thought of the book based on their personal quests du jour. Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.
Next up for discussion will be George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Discussion begins February 9th.