Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

While I was in the middle of this book, I went home one evening and read exactly zero pages. Instead, I watched trashy television and thoroughly enjoyed it. The next morning, before work, I read exactly zero pages. That morning, on my break? Zero pages. In fact, the afternoon before, on my break, I also read zero pages. While I was eating lunch, I finally did pick the book up again, but what I am saying is that I went 24 hours without reading anything more than TWoP recaps.

This is, as I’m sure you can imagine, unusual for me. And I don’t know if it was me or the book or what. Last week was very busy and somewhat sad, and The Tudors was just what I needed. I think I didn’t need a book about divorce, depression, and “finding yourself.” Not last week, anyway.

Eat, Pray, Love is about the year Elizabeth Gilbert spent in Italy, India, and Indonesia after an acrimonious divorce and subsequent depression. It’s about her journey from turmoil to peace as she spends time in Rome learning about pleasure (in the form of learning Italian and eating fantastic-sounding food), in an ashram near Mumbai learning about prayer, and in Bali learning about balance, where she eventually falls in love with a Brazilian man.

In the end, I feel kind of ambivalent about the book. I didn’t hate it, but it was definitely not the right book for me at right now. I also . . . I hate to say this about a memoir, but I also didn’t really like Elizabeth Gilbert, at least not as she presented herself in the book. I know what it’s like to struggle with depression, so it wasn’t that I didn’t feel sympathetic about that. Maybe it’s hard to feel sympathetic when someone can just go live in Italy, India, and Indonesia for a year? Most of us have to deal with the messes that we’ve made right where we are.

I hesitate to say this, because her book was obviously very sincere and her journey obviously meant a great deal to her, but much of it seemed a little bit trite to me. I can certainly enjoy books by people who don’t share the same religious beliefs that I do, but something about the way she presented her “pick and choose” approach to religion kind of bugged me. I wish it hadn’t, but it did.

There were things I liked about the book, though – the solitude she found in Rome, being on her own; the way she presented the peace she found, meditating in India. I probably liked the last section least of all, but it was the fastest-moving section, oddly enough.

Anne Lamott is quoted on the back of the book, as saying, “She’s wise, jaunty, human, ethereal, hilarious, heartbreatking, and God, does she play great attention to the things that really matter.” I wish Elizabeth Gilbert had dug a little deeper, because then I could agree with that.

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