Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned 30, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want: a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.
To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world, all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the 23 happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration. In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best way, unexpectedly.
An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society's ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.
©2006 Elizabeth Gilbert; (P)2006 Penguin Audio, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and Books on Tape. All rights reserved.
"Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry, conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish with touching candor, as she details her exotic tableau with history, anecdote and impression." (Publishers Weekly)
"Gilbert's sensuous and audacious spiritual odyssey is as deeply pleasurable as it is enlightening." (Booklist)
I'm writing my first review because I'm appalled that I nearly didn't order this because of some weak reviews on this site, but my friend's persistent recommendation won me over--fortunately!
Gilbert's book is an intimate look at one person's struggle not to answer life's questions but to put herself on her own journey towards answering them. This true story also bears great universal truths. She wrestles with problems that eventually plague most of us, turning for help to the profound but colorful people she meets along her way, from a teenager in India to a Bali guru (aged somewhere between 77 and 102) to Luca Spaghetti, whose name is no less amusing than his comments.
Gilbert manages to weave in striking metaphors that light up her text. Her description of being visited one night by the personifications of loneliness and sadness, harrassing her like film noir police detectives, is alone worth the price of the book.
The spiritual philosophies Gilbert learns are sprinkled throughout her story without weighing it down but adding a profound dimension that will have you mulling them over long after, and perhaps even incorporating into your own world view.
I'm buying 3 copies for friends and recommending it to everyone else. One friend even sent it to someone she knows in England who's undergoing cancer treatment because I've been so enthusiastic about it.
My big problem is that here in Jerusalem we're waiting for it to be translated--when's that going to happen?
I LOVED this book! I listened to the entire book in 1.5 days. It was much "lighter" that I had expected. While spiritual, this book addressed faith and spirituality as deeply personal issues, yet from a perspective that was never oppressive or overdone. Gilbert's descriptions were detailed and revealing and she gave a perfectly balanced degree of depth.
Her light style (both in her writing and her reading) presents some very serious topics in such a way that they are addressed with care and respect. Although it is not possible for me to set out on such an adventure of self-discovery and self-appreciation, I got enough vicarious pleasure from this book to make up for it, at least for a while.
You don't have to be on any personal quest for clarity or self-actualization in order to appreicate this book, but if you read/listen to it, you may find yourself on such a journey. If nothing else, you'll get plenty of laughs!
I'd already read this book in hardback before buying the audiobook (I loved it that much), and discovered that Elizabeth Gilbert's reading of her own memoir revealed new depth, humor, and poignancy.
(Please permit this technical note: If I could have, I would've deducted half a star from my rating on the grounds that Gilbert's voice is low and husky. I listened to this book mostly in my car, and at times her husky voice dropped so low that the reading becomes muffled or inaudible -- or maybe that's just how loud my car is! It is occasionally distracting, but not overly so.)
This "travel" book is actually a tale of Gilbert's stripping away of the obstacles and existential plaque that had suffocated her carefully, but not thoughtfully, constructed life as a wife in the 'burbs. She treats the subject of her awakening and healing with great honesty, self-effacing humor, and a tremendous degree of likability. (I found myself wishing that she lived around the block, just because it would be so much fun to share an evening and a bottle of wine with her.)
Gilbert's description of living (and eating) in Italy for 4 months, then spending 4 months in a Yoga ashram in India, then topping it off with 4 months in Indonesia do capture her environments, and the surrounding cultures. But this is not, strictly speaking, a "travel" book. You aren't going to hear as much about how Italians work as you are about how Liz Gilbert works (but it's hardly a loss). Be prepared to follow the thread of her self-discovery through a combination of woolgathering and self-reflection; be prepared to learn about the spiritual path of her Guru, which Gilbert follows and explains at length in the book's middle section. And get ready to laugh out loud!
In summary, this book will long remain on my list of "Five books I would take with me if I had to live on a deserted island." I hope that others find it as enlightening and inspiring as I did.
I didn't know exactly what to expect but, I was pleasantly surprised. It is actually narrated BY the author herself, and the narration is one of the best I have ever heard. She is really good! She doesn't sound like she is reading at all, but having a conversation with you, or telling a story from memory. She is a smart and witty writer/storyteller. I have heard the complaints about the "me me me" attitude of the book...but come on, it IS a memoir after all. That said, I enjoyed the book, and I don't generally read memoirs. I would recommend this book to a friend.
She did read well, which I appreciate
For me, it just wasn't that suspenseful waiting to see if she could meditate successfully
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly. I see some of these critical reviews and I can't understand what these readers difficulties are. I found this book to be a complete delight and Elizabeth Gilbert to be an introspective, inspirational woman and whose prose I admire tremendously. She made me laugh out loud over and over again and I so enjoyed her sharing her insights with such honesty and clarity that I am in awe. She makes a great case for being exactly who we are, making peace with ourselves, seeing the divine in ourselves. She inspires me to do the same.
This is a fabulous audibook - you won't want it to end! I commend the author for sharing her struggle with depression, and how she reclaimed her life through meditation and the interesting people she met during her travels. This book has history, humor, and hope. It's a wonderful journey that is not to be missed.
Overall, I'd say that if you're a strong independent person, don't bother reading. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't finish the book. Listening to her complain about her life and her first world problems was maddening. Listening to her describe food just made me hungry. Ha!
I have an eclectic taste in books. I move from Jodi Picoult to Gillian Flynn. From Ken Kesey to Janet Evanovich. If it is good, I'll read it
A friend and I were talking one day about spirituality. I attempted to describe to her the two months I'd spent in India and the degrees of misfortune I witnessed while I was there. Upon hearing this, my friend recommended, with an enthusiastic smile, that I read Eat, Pray, Love. It is with great regret that I report to my friend (and everyone else) that Eat, Pray, Love is a diary about a selfish American woman who is blessed to travel on her publisher's dime. To be fair, the two months I spent in India was also on my employer's dime. But for the record, I had not gone through a divorce and I wasn't in a "bad place" in life but I was in my mid thirties, like the author.Of course, I would not try to draw parallels between her experiences and mine. But I could not help but feel that this person was utterly self absorbed in this retelling of her spiritual journey back to sanity. If you want a real, objective opinion at the expense of a few spoilers, then read on.SPOILER ALERT!!! First of all, Italy had nothing, really, to do with her spiritual growth. Yes, I understand she ate...quite a lot, in fact. Awesome for her. She sampled exotic Italian cuisine that most of us will only be able to dream about. Again, bravo for her! No, don't hate me for pointing this out. If you're going to write a book about your spiritual journey and then talk about the foods that you sampled for the first 2 hours of the book...I'm sorry but that's just pretentious. So, I'm suffering through all the foods she ate, and the hardships she endured learning Italian, and the utter consternation the beauty of Italy caused in her. Again, I'm thinking how utterly lucky she must be, to have a publisher (and readers) who "eat, pray, and love" this kinda stuff.Remember when I said started reading this book because of the conversation I had with a friend about India and my life changing experience there? I'm not going to even validate the author's India experience with more than these few words. The author admitted that one of the primary things asked of all attending students of the ashram is that they not be emotionally unstable. I think holding a knife for hours and contemplating harming yourself months before falls into that category. She dismisses that night when she almost killed herself, choosing instead to count the months since she and her husband had divorced. Seriously??? And then the author admits, unabashedly, to being a disruption to the overall harmony of the ashram to the point of making loud outburst during meditation, She never admitted to being embarrassed, however, I was embarrassed for her. In many ways, she seems almost child-like in her journey to enlightenment in India, oftentimes complaining or brooding or complaining and brooding. And just when you think she will come away with a deeper understanding and acceptance of herself, she makes out with a tree...reckless abandon redefined.Sadly, Indonesia is worse than India. She befriends a divorced woman, raises money for the woman to buy a home, and then suspects that the woman is out to hustle her when the woman doesn't run out and buy a home right away. The author, after receiving council from another Indonesian, finds that there are cultural differences which can be an obstacle when attempting to buying a home in Indonesia. Still, the author has to see this woman buy a home before she leaves the country. She lies to the woman, tells her that she has to buy a home before she (the author) leaves Indonesia or she's going to take the money back. WOW!No, I realize the author never professed to live like a nun or a Muslim. But this final story gnawed at me deeply. It defied every tenant I've come to revere as a steward of the planet and the people I live among. If you're going to give then you give and you move on. It is not my duty to hang around and make sure the guy I just gave 10 dollars to on the corner really buys food instead of liquor or drugs. That's the pitfall in giving. If you can't handle the shame of being seen as a sucker, then don't involve your friends and family in giving to your cause. End of story. Ultimately, I found the author's long string of insecurities and unresolved issues tiresome, and sometimes, utterly inane. Any nuggets of enlightenment to be found here are buried deep beneath the author's philosophical beliefs in relationship to the rediscovery of her wonderful self. This is, quite frankly, a well written account of one woman's narcissistic journey to nowhere.
I have mixed feelings about this book. While I enjoyed and have benefited from the various right-on-target one-liners that emerged periodically from the mouths of the many colorful characters, I found the "journey" of this politically correct, entitled woman of privilege to be a histrionic exercise in self-absorption. Her choice of countries based on the letter "I" is most telling. All about "me". It's one of those deceptive narratives that gives the illusion of intimacy yet comes off as shallow and self-serving.
In spite of all her enterprises into enlightenment, the end of the book brings her no closer to resolving her issues with the men in her life - relationships that are many years in the past. And how does she end up? What has she learned? She ends up paired with another flawed human being from whom she will have to discover all over again how to detach. Perhaps at another five-star ashram? Raising another pile of money to throw at one, just one, needy subject?
She needs to discover that spritual solvency is not somewhere "out there" but inside.
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