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)
This book was one I invented a whole roadtrip for just so I could enjoy it all in one go. There is so much to chew on in here: places, foods, loves, tragedies, furnishings, musings, religions... It is not only the pasta that is toothsome. Along with the writer and the narrator, I experienced the emotions of the book almost as if they were my own. I looked forward to my next reading session as one might hunger for another good meal.
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.
This is a wonderful story, and she has a lovely voice. I can't recall enjoying a book more.
Her physical and spiritual journeys are fascinating and inspiring. I don’t want to mimic her journey but she has inspired me to more carefully consider the journey my soul is craving.
Liz, I would love to meet you and thank you personally for your beautiful work.
Once I accepted that the author is somewhat self-absorbed ( a hazzard in the world of personal memoirs) I really enjoyed her adventures around the globe. A great listen, read by the author to boot.
Initially I bought this book as a sort of nutritional supplement, because I thought it would be "good for me". I put off listening until I had to drive across 3 states alone, and then I didn't want to get out of the car! Elizabeth Gilbert has a clear, pleasant voice and wonderful delivery, and she tells her own story with passion and surprisingly quirky humor. I laughed outloud frequently listening to this book, and learned a great deal about the people and places visited by Gilbert on her self-described spiritual journey. She is a fabulous writer and even a great thinker, expressing true insight without ever becoming maudlin or indulgent. I will never live so exciting a life as Elizabeth Gilbert, so I thank her for sharing her energetic adventure with me. (I bought 3 paper copies for my daughter, my mother and my best friend, an American expatriate and will grok this story even better than I.)
The extent of this woman’s self absorption is astonishing. Spending a year contemplating your navel is a luxury not many could afford or stomach. By the end of the book there isn’t much doubt that the most important person in her life is herself. I think an author reading their book allows for the reader to get the truest vision of the story they are telling, but I found Gilbert to be very unlikable and too much like a spoiled adolescent.
I bought this because I love Italy and Italian so much, and she expresses this so well. What bothered me about the book was that she has the money to spend a few years traveling and seeking enlightenment in India and Indonesia and, although she does try to help a poor friend in Indonesia, overall the plight of the desperately poor in those countries does not even touch her radar screen. She can afford to live in her own world and seek deep truths without noticing those starving around her. As a result, two-thirds of the book feel like a travelogue with blinders on. I felt like an ugly American tourist just listening to her self-indulgence. Skip the last 2/3 of the book and it would be a five-star experience.
After 2 hrs I turned it off. Couldn't stand it one minute more. At least read Infidel when you read this one. I couldn't stomach the main character, nor her story. Should be zero stars.
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!
The author's shallow rambling about self caused me to lose my appetite during her eating phase, not want to think about prayer or meditation during her prayer phase, and I quit before any negative impact in the love phase.
Have moved on to Faulkner
Was just herself
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