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.
O.K., the title is not necessarily true to my review. When the author mentioned she was a Cancer it all made sense. She is very insightful, articulate, witty, charming, but yes she loves to whine and becomes self-absorbed in herself. Yet, the story and plot is perfect and represented everything I wanted in a book---food, adventure, travel, and an exploration of spirituality. Once I warmed up to her writing voice, I was immersed in the book and the story.
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 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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