Eat, Pray, Love – by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is a book that was recommended to me by a friend. I doubt seriously that I would have picked it up on my own and read it. But now that I have, I’m very glad that I chose to be so pro-active with this suggestion. Barbara’s challenge to me to read it came in response to my informing her that I was currently absorbed with works of a very dark nature; ones that brooded on man’s capacity for evil. She told me to ‘put aside these moribund volumes’ and read a book that she had found ‘enchanting’. My curiosity had now been piqued. Bemused, I decided to accept.
Having had no previous encounters with any of Gilbert’s works, I had few expectations. I basically dove right in, confident-based on my friend’s recommendation, that I would find something worthwhile to justify the expenditure of money and time. However, I did do a little research, and was amazed to discover that this is no ordinary book. It has developed quite a following, one that is worldwide in scope. There are something like seven million copies in print, as well as thirty translated versions. It is a ‘word of mouth’ book, to be sure. It might not even have needed Oprah Winfrey’s help, yet it got that as well. The sum of it all is one amazingly successful outing for its author, Elizabeth Gilbert.
What I found myself thinking, though, after maybe the first thirty or so pages, wasn’t what you might expect as regards a book of such magnitude. What I was thinking, in so many words, was this; what’s all the fuss about? Not yet willing to give in, I continued on. And it got better.
Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir. It is a journal- a very personal recollection of the author’s experiences in three different countries/cultures over the course of one year’s time- with each location allotted exactly one-third/four months of said year. And because Gilbert went with a purpose appropriate for each locale, she structured her book to reflect that fact. Eat, Pray, Love is essentially three books. The difference in the tone and events of the respective sections supports that argument. Yet as you read along, it dawns on you that there is a common thread, a central idea, that unifies the proceedings.
That central thread is the author herself-her journey, her quest, if you will. By virtue of the very personal nature of that journey, it stands to reason that the greater the rapport created between reader and author, the higher the enjoyment level for the reader will become. And once I began to feel empathy and compassion for Elizabeth Gilbert, my enjoyment level headed ’off the charts.’
I experience Gilbert as practically the Rosanne Barr of writers; so raw and disarming is the essence of her honesty. She is unsparing in her appraisals-most especially of herself. She is by turns humorous, candid, exultant, intrepid and ready for battle. She is, in short, not afraid to put it out there. And by god, you had better be ready to hear it.
Gilbert’s journey from the cold bathroom floor of her Westchester County home to the islands of Indonesia and points in between is unforgettable. And the best part is that you feel you are there with her, meditating in the cold cave of the Ashram, eating pasta in Naples, sailing with her and Felipe in Bali. She makes it so real for the reader.