Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search For Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
Published by Penguin Books
Publish Date: January 30, 2007
Source: Book – Bought, Audiobook – Library
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. (from Goodreads)
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
My Thoughts: I can’t say that I am at all surprised that opinions are so varied on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, but I CAN tell you that I loved it SO VERY MUCH. Everyone reads books very differently – particularly those of us who regularly hang out for long periods of time in the book community, around bookish people – but for me, this book just worked really well and I was able to look beyond some of the reasons other people found the book so off-putting.
So as the summary suggests, Elizabeth Gilbert is an early thirty-something who is struggling with…herself. By the looks of it, she has it all: a husband, a great career, plenty of material possessions – but she felt that something was missing in her life. What resulted was a bit of a breakdown on her part and a few (in my opinion) not-great decisions and a few (in my opinion) great decisions — that is how I saw the book in a very broken-down nutshell.
Did I always agree with Ms. Gilbert? NO. Did I take on her ideals and her beliefs and her notions on how life should be? NO. But did I feel like she was open and honest about the course she took? YES. Did I appreciate and enjoy her story along the way? YES YES SO MUCH YES.
After a relationship that went south, and then a sad rebound relationship, Ms. Gilbert decided to take a chunk of time off to travel the world. She spent some time in Italy, India, and Indonesia. She made a plan before she left and doggone it, she stuck to it. Eat Pray Love is Gilbert’s first-hand account of the time spent in each place, including some first-hand experiences, interactions with locals, and relationships built with special people. I LOVE LOVE LOVED the time she spent in Italy, sampling the food and learning the culture and remembering what it was to just enjoy life again. She moved from there to India where she spent some time studying spirituality – I mean really hardcore studying – which is where the ‘pray’ portion of the title comes from. From there, Gilbert moved on to Indonesia where she planned to put everything she had learned in the previous months to use: a good balance of spirituality and enjoying life. Ultimately, when Gilbert wasn’t looking for it (nor planning for it), she ended up finding love.
Now, I can tell you that I purchased this book a couple of years ago and it sat on my shelf for ages, as lovely as it could be. Every time I walked by said shelf, I could see it sitting there, and I almost felt like I would tell my book ONE DAY, BOOK. ONE DAY. (There are several books just like that sitting there. I’m gonna get to them all, I promise.) But I just happened to notice that the Eat Pray Love digital audiobook was available in my library as I was browsing my computer one day and I thought HMMM SELF, GRAB THE BOOK OFF THE SHELF!! (Y’all know I read audio + print together. A quirk.) I’m SO GLAD that I did this because I think that this is one of those cases where this book came to me at exactly the right time. I really enjoyed the heck out of it and ended up getting so much out of the story. I enjoyed all of its parts equally.
Reading the reviews of other people have left me perplexed at times and often a little sad, though. Some are saying that they believe the author to be a bit self-indulgent and whiny. While everyone is entitled to an opinion of their own, I just didn’t feel that way at all. See, I genuinely believe that we all go through our own struggles in life – whatever they may be – and if something is bothering us or if something is a problem for us, then it is truly a struggle or a problem. It isn’t always fair to compare people to one another. I just feel like it is better to read the stories of other people and if we are able to learn something from them, to glean something – then fantastic! That’s awesome. If not, hopefully we can enjoy the story along the way. And even if we cannot enjoy it, hopefully the book is at least discussable so we can at the very least enjoy a great talk with friends.
In the case of Eat Pray Love, not only did I not find Ms. Gilbert self-indulgent and whiny (because who am I to judge her?), I realize that she was indeed feeling like she was going through a crisis. She made a choice, she stuck with her choice, and she wrote about it. It became a popular book and was turned into a movie. I cannot fault her for that. Lucky for me, it kind of made an impact on ME and I was also entertained and will likely read the book again when my life settles down a bit – and I would like to see the movie adaptation as well. ALSO – I have a tendency to not see characters (or in this case, people) as whiny as often as other people like in the case of these books and their main character. ALSO (again) I always try hard to just read a story for what it is – a story – and not put myself or my beliefs or my feelings onto the characters/people on the inside of it. I don’t want to go into the story believing that this character/person is self-indulgent because her life is different than mine – I don’t want to “realize” it along the way – guys, I just want to read her story. These opinions and statements reflect my own feelings, friends, and not the feelings of any of you and are not judgments if any of you felt this way.
The truth is – to me – that THIS book is Elizabeth Gilbert’s STORY. I don’t feel like it is fair to judge her for it. But that is my own personal opinion – just mine – and I don’t fault anyone else for feeling that way.
I also want to be brave enough to take life by the collar and shake it up and CHANGE IT if it isn’t working out for me. ME doing that would not include a months-long trip across the world, but wouldn’t that be nice? I’d love to travel and learn how to enjoy life a bit more, be a bit happier, eat food from other cultures, meet new people. I’d love to sit down with Ms. Gilbert and have a real face-to-face talk about this experience, more than just these pages had to offer, because I think that she could really fire me up a bit about my own life based on her experiences.
It’s really easy, you guys, to tell someone that they have it all. But the truth is that we never really know what is going on with someone else. All we know is 1) what we can see or read with our eyes 2) what they tell us. We don’t know what is in the heart of someone else. I think Ms. Gilbert must have needed this trip when she took it – I hope that is the case – and I am so grateful that she chose to write down her experiences. I am unconcerned with whether or not it was arranged beforehand to be a book. That does not concern me. I am only concerned with how I feel after I have finished the story…
…and when I finished THIS story, I felt like I could exhale. Because I felt like someone GETS IT. Not that my life is anything like hers, but that somehow this woman understands a piece of what I’m feeling. THAT is what I loved about Eat Pray Love.
Audiobook Notes: The audiobook format of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is published by PenguinAudio and is 12 hours, 52 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Elizabeth Gilbert herself – the author – which I enjoyed immensely. I love it when authors read their own books, and in this case I do not think anyone could have read Eat Pray Love better than the author herself. She knew which parts were the most happy, the most spiritual, the most serious, the most somber. She was able to lend her voice well, to pause where she needed to, and her mood and tone was reflected and rippled outward by the way she spoke. I feel like she was reading the book out loud to herself, and I was listening in, and that made it quite special given the nature of the story. I am certainly interested in hearing Elizabeth Gilbert read more books.
I recommend Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert to fans of travel stories and memoirs. I am very interested in the follow-up to this story, Committed, which seems to pick up a little bit after the end of this book and is also a memoir – I will certainly seek out to read that book via audiobook (as it is again read by the author) while I follow along in print.
Eat Pray Love will appeal to fans of:
Books about Travel/Other Cultures
Some Romance – No Triangle, Slow-Building
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
is currently available for purchase.
Have you read this book?
Are you one of the people that LOVED it?
Or HATED it?
I’m very interested in WHY.
I think it kind of changed my life a bit –
but that’s just where I am in my life RIGHT NOW.
Not really because I’m anything like the author…
…although I’m sure she’s quite lovely.