Eat Pray Love
by: Elizabeth Gilbert
# of pages: 334
Quote: “And the ‘highways’ are horrible, made surreally dangerous by the dense, mad prevalence of Bali’s version of the American family minivan – a small motorcycle with five people crowded on it, the father driving with one hand while holding the newborn infant with the other (football-like) while Mom sits sidesaddle behind him in her tight sarong with a basket balanced on her head, encouraging her twin toddlers not to fall off the speeding motorbike, which is probably traveling on the wrong side of the road and has no headlight.” -p. 289 (thanks Elizabeth Gilbert for describing so perfectly what I always try to tell people about my travels to Indonesia!)
I’ve been hearing about this book for about a year now and have always been intrigued. Mainly by the title and the cover, but I sort of knew what the book was about and it sounded interesting too. I went to a used book sale a couple of months ago at the school my mom teaches at (it was a fund raiser). I saw this book and immediately grabbed it because it’s one I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t felt motivated enough to check it out at the library and really get around to it. We just went on a vacation to New Orleans and I was unable to make it to the library before the trip. So I went to the pile of books I bought and this one called out to be read first.
This is a memoir by a woman who left her husband, her home, and her country behind to “find herself.” Finding herself meant finding her place (physically, emotionally, and mentally), what she enjoys, and how she connects to God. After her divorce she travels to Italy (eat), India (pray), and Indonesia (love).
In Italy, Gilbert…eats. It’s her pursuit of pleasure and as most of us would do if we wanted to solely pursue pleasure, she ate and relaxed. She made lots of friends, did some traveling, and ATE. It makes me want to go to Italy and eat too!! I also admire how she was able to put aside the guilt that often accompanies American women while eating. She does say that she was underweight before she arrived in Italy, but she also admits that she more than made up for it and even had to buy more jeans because she grew out of her regular pairs! I think she did a great job in Italy.
In India, Gilbert goes to an ashram (a place of Yogic devotion) where she spends the entire 4 months learning to pray and meditate. She does make some friends, but her conversations with those friends mainly consist of discussions of prayer and meditation. Although she does discuss more of her past… and how it is getting in the way of prayer and meditation. Blah. I wish I could say I enjoyed this part or admire Gilbert for her accomplishments, but I mostly found it boring. I was also a little annoyed that although she claims to believe that all paths and religions lead to God (they just all go about it in different ways according to her), she seems to be condescending about Western Christianity at times. If it’s equal to Yoga or Hinduism or whatever other religion, then why seem to sneer at it? I noticed that Gilbert seemed to scoff at several things American in the book though. Part of me understands this, sometimes I feel that Americans don’t have the same grasp of reality that the rest of the world has, but then again, I don’t think I’d go around claiming that all things are equal and have God in them and then do that. I am an open minded person and although I don’t believe that all religions and spiritual paths lead to God, I do understand why other people believe what they believe and I don’t expect them to be the same as I am.
In Indonesia (Bali), Gilbert tries to find a balance of pleasure and the discipline of meditation. I think she does a great job. She spends part of each day in prayer and meditation, but doesn’t let it consume her life the way she did at the ashram. She’s secure enough that she can also make friends and spend a lot of time hanging out with them or relaxing with a book or traveling around town. She connects to people a lot more in Bali, making two friends in particular, Wayan and Felipe. Because she’s so secure in who she is at this point, she’s able to give to these friends without getting lost in them. I found the descriptions of Bali to be fascinating!!! Their culture and the way they live…it’s so unique. I’ve been to Java before (Jakarta and a coastal town) and expected Bali to be like Carita, the beach town I visited. However, Bali is not predominantly Islamic and it has its own customs and traditions.
Overall I was disappointed in the book after hearing all of the hype. Gilbert’s writing style seemed almost juvenile at times. Sometimes it seemed pointless how selfish she was being. But I guess that was the path she HAD to take (although she didn’t really HAVE to, but she felt like she did, so same thing I guess). I’m just glad that not everyone needs to do that. It kind of makes me sad that she felt she had to do all of that stuff just to find happiness and contentment and her place in the world. Also that she had to do so much WORK to find God. But she did have an amazing adventure and met so many great friends, so even if she went out of her way to find God and happiness, at least it was worth it just for the friends she made.
When I was almost done with the book I saw the preview for the movie
. I had no clue there was a movie in production!! I was watching it and suddenly realized why it seemed familiar….”I’m reading that book!” I’m actually really excited about the movie, I think it’s going to be better than the book. Of course, I’m a Julia fan, so that helps. But I think that the movie will take the best of each section of the book. Hopefully it won’t go into so much detail with the meditation…after all, they don’t want the audience to be bored watching someone chant and meditate. Anyway, definitely looking forward to that.
I recommend this to adults who enjoy memoirs and the contemporary non-fiction “finding yourself” genre. I also recommend this to people who love traveling/other cultures and enjoy reading about other people’s travels.
Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I’d be happy to post yours as well.