I decided to read Eat, Pray, Love because of all the hype which has surrounded it. A friend of mine insisted it was “amaaaaazing”, it was being turned into a movie, and my boyfriend’s Mum took it on holiday after being convinced that it was essential travel reading.
Eat, Pray, Love is a biography of New Yorker Elizabeth Gilbert’s year of travel and self discovery after a drawn out divorce and resulting depression. She wanted to visit 3 countries in 12 months, spending 4 months in each. First stop was Italy where she was on the quest for pleasure derived from good food. Second stop was India where the journey took a noticeably more prayerful and less indulgent turn. Finally, she journeyed to Indonesia in the search balance and love through other people and her relationships with them.
I was so disappointed with this book. It is a self indulgent account of an event which isn’t exactly novel or (in my opinion) worthy of the crisis status it was given. Ok, so I have not been through a divorce myself so I am perhaps not the best point of reference, but in the grand scheme of life’s hardships being suffered around the world it rates pretty low.
The India third of the book was particularly hard to read. The whole thing seemed like page after page describing her different experiences while praying and chanting. She glosses over any real explanations of the religion she is tapping into. She makes it seem as though spiritual enlightenment is a frivolous and easily achieved state. It is the most self indulgent and tedious section of the novel.
The book does have it’s positives however. The times when she does write of the countries she is visiting are well written and interesting. She has a good knowledge of the history of these places and includes a number of interesting stories and facts about her surroundings. She inspired me to learn Italian and to go on the hunt for some authentic Italian food. Her travel writing does the countries she visited justice.
Another positive I took from the book was it’s structure. The three sections which correlate to the three countries are each divided into an equal number of parts. All the divisions and numbers have spiritual importance to the author which had no real meaning for me, but created a nicely balanced book.
I’m disappointed that this book has been taken as a self help book by so many women around the world. It offers no help but merely tells of one persons experience and what worked for her. It is a sickening example of modern society’s desperation for something to jump on to explain Gilbert needs to focus more on her travel writing and leave out the intense spirituality and self centerd rambling.
I feel like I must end this review with a quote, not something I usually do, but something I feel is very appropriate in this instance.
In the words of Frances O’Brien from ABC’s ‘The Librarians’ when faced with a meditating real estate agent,
“That woman who wrote Eat, Pray, Love has got a lot to answer for.”