Wednesday, February 03, 2010

REVIEW: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I think I might be the last person alive to read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I somehow managed to miss all the hype surrounding this book with it being on Oprah and the best sellers lists and all. And I'm glad for that. I don't like reading hyped-up books when they're at the height of their popularity, but mostly just because I'm contrary. But then, I was looking at a list of possible recommendations for the Women Unbound reading challenge and this book was there, I noticed that Eat, Pray, Love was also in my library and I thought I'd give it a try. One of my goals for this year is to read more non-fiction, after all.

And when I said I missed out on the hype, I really meant it. I didn't even know what this book was about until I brought it home from the library and read the blurb on the back of the book. Hopefully you'll bear with me through the brief synopsis, there is that slim possibility that there may be other clueless souls like me who have not heard of this book. (are you out there, clueless souls?)

Elizabeth Gilbert is a 30 something year old woman who finds herself reeling after a particularly nasty divorce and an unsuccessful love affair. She's unhappy and alone and needs to do something drastic to recover. In order to do this, she has decided on a year-long trip to Italy, India and Indonesia where goes in search of pleasure, God and a balance between the two.

Gilbert decides first on Italy because something about the Italian language makes her happy. This caught my attention straight away. I like the idea of focusing on the things that makes us happy and then pursuing them. I feel like this is something that I need to be more aware of and proactive about. In this part though, Gilbert attends an Italian language class, eats a lot of pasta and gelato and gains a bunch of weight. Her writing style is quite friendly and chatty and she comes across as a person who would be a fun friend to have around.

Then she heads off to India to an ashram in order to seek God through yoga. I found this part to be quite difficult to wade through. I'm not particularly spiritual and Gilbert's beliefs and mine don't necessarily go hand in hand. I'm not against what she believes, I just found it all to be a little cheesy, in particular her conversations with herself as she struggles with hours of meditation or chants. I can relate to feeling a need to strengthen personal belief systems, and living in an ashram in India does sound fascinating. But I felt a lot of the descriptions included in this India part dragged the flow of the writing down. Best part of the ashram? Richard the Texan is hilarious.

And finally, Gilbert flies away to Indonesia on the vague comments of a medicine man who told her previously that she would live in Indonesia and the two of them would become great friends. The months in Italy and India seemed so structured and ordered that I found the lack of planning into the Indonesian months to be a little jarring. The new love interest helped, as did the arrival of new characters that pulled at my heartstrings, but the stop-start reading of her time in India meant that the momentum of reading was lost for me and I found myself forcing my way through the last bit.

Overall, I did enjoy Eat, Pray, Love. I found Elizabeth Gilbert to be funny and entertaining. I was rooting for her throughout and I love the premise of the book - a woman searching for happiness and inner strength and following her heart. I'd love to be able to take a year out and find myself. I wonder where that would lead me if I had the chance? Where would it take you?

Other Opinions:

Maw Books Blog

Read for: 100+ reading challenge, Support Your Local Library, Women Unbound reading challenge

What did you think of this book? Will you be reading Committed? Are you looking forward to the upcoming movie? If you had the same opportunities, where would your journey take you?


  1. I haven't read it either and to be honest I had no idea what it was about either. From some reason, I thought it was a book full of interesting facts. Definitely sounds worth a read though.

  2. I didn't know there was going to be a movie! Hm, not sure how I feel about that - it doesn't seem like it would lend itself really well to a movie. I agree with you that the parts at the ashram were not as interesting, though I love it when she tells one of the people there that she is having trouble concentrating her mind, and he says, it's a shame that you're the only person this has ever happened to in the history of prayer. :P

    Mm, if I had a year all to myself (and lots of money), I'd live in London, and take short trips to other places in Europe. But mainly London. I would go to Costa every morning, and see plays and buy books, and go to all the museums.

  3. I haven't read it either! I have it on my stacks, and I feel sure (given my foodie/travel mood) that I'll get around to it this year. I'm also contrary, so I avoided the hype for a long time, too.

  4. I don't think I'll be reading Committed anytime soon but I am curious about the movie.

  5. You're definitely not the last person alive to read it. I can't think of anything that would make me read this either. The thought of all that self-indulgent introspection makes me feel a bit queasy.

    Also, the fact that the author was paid in advance in order for her to take the trip and write the book just makes it all a bit tacky and contrived to me.

    But that's just me. A bajillion other readers can't be wrong, I suppose.

  6. I haven't read it either. I did enjoy the author's interview in O Magazine, though.

  7. I actually read it BEFORE all the hype, before she was on Oprah or anything. I loved it. It slowed down a lot on the 3rd section but I really enjoyed the first two.

    I don't really have a problem with her being paid to take the trip, writers are paid to do stuff all the time.


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