What is all the hype around EAT PRAY LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert (2007), especially now that there is a movie based the book? I had to dip my toes into this international phenomenon and find out for myself. It’s a memoir about her life after a messy divorce and a sticky rebound-relationship falls apart. She’s floundering as many women do after such emotional trauma. What is different about Elizabeth Gilbert is that she packs her bags and chooses three countries in which to soul search: Italy, India, and Indonesia.
She begins her year journey seeking pleasure in Italy, primarily through the foods in this delicious country. Yes, there is beauty to behold in the architecture, but she went with the intentions of indulging herself in the pleasures of taste on her “no carb left behind” diet. Her silly anecdotes made me laugh out loud and one can’t help but be encouraged to live free of calorie counting. But this fun-loving section draws to a close and she dives into a deeper, more difficult section to read.
India was her place of seeking a higher power through prayer and meditation. I think it is wonderful when someone realizes their life needs to change and they seek out a sense of wholeness to their obvious brokenness. But sadly Gilbert goes down a path of mystical, New Age meditation. I found out only after the fact that it is called a “coming-of-New-Age” memoir. This entire section pained me to watch her put so much effort into something so cultish. She’s seeking out God and goes to a guru? Weird. She doesn’t intend to impress religious matters upon people, but the amount of information she poured into the second section about “god” and meditation says the opposite. She’s giving a first person account to life at an Ashram in India and eventually by the end of the book says that she was praying to her future self? This section was disappointing to say the least even though she may have found some inner peace.
In her pursuit of balance in Indonesia, she visited with an old medicine man. She also discovers that Bali isn’t all that balanced itself and seems to have only brought her life back into the circle of losing herself in another relationship. But you can congratulate her because, from the sounds of it, she doesn’t disregard her wants and desires for the needs of another male companion. For that I can appreciate her soul searching journey. She found herself in her travels and kept being that person even after she committed to a love affair. It’s the “Runaway Bride” finally realizing she can like her own kind of eggs.
I’d rate this book at 1: Poor. Waste of good reading time. I’m glad I borrowed it from the library instead of buying it. She really didn’t give enough of a description of each country to make me want to get out there and travel. The entirety of the book is told as if from a chatty, silly friend who likes to drop the F-bomb and talk about her weaknesses, depression, and insecurities.
Read the published article that appeared in MOMENTS magazine in Oct 2010.