Newest Review: ... spiritual aspects in the book it's just a little tedious. The subject matter, already covered by "Shirley Valentine", is one of ... more
Member Name: Starlight81
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything - Elizabeth Gilbert
Advantages: Witty, intelligent style of writing
Disadvantages: search for spiritual enlightenment may not be everyone's cup of tea!
This book drew me in with its introduction- it's the tale of Elizabeth Gilbert's quest to find balance and peace in her life, and is divided up neatly into 108 short chapters. She explains that the structure took its inspiration from the 'japa malas' that yogis use in India, on which the Catholic rosaries are based. These have 108 beads, which is seen to be auspicious as the number 108 can be divided by three and its digits equal 9, another multiple of 3. In turn, the number three is supposed to represent supreme balance (she refers here to bar stools as a good example of this theory).
Therefore, not only is the book divided into 108 short chapters, representing Gilbert's search for balance, but each of three sections is divided into 36 of these 108 chapters. The three sections represent the three stages of her journey in the year she's describing - 4 months in Italy, 4 in India and the final 4 in Indonesia.
I have no idea why this flawlessly logical and mathematical layout appealed to me so much, as I tend to dislike anything like this. I suppose perhaps I liked having some idea of what to expect as I began reading.
Essentially the plot really is just about Elizabeth Gilbert finding peace and contentment in her life, by travelling to Italy, India and Indonesia (the 3 I's, as she calls it), but it's also much more than that. She firstly takes us back to where the story began- when she was crying on her bathroom floor because she had turned 30 and was married and living in a big house with a man who wanted to start a family. She was deeply unhappy, as she was starting to realise that none of this was what she really wanted from her life, but that she also loved her husband and was afraid to leave him and everything they'd built up together. Then, as she began to pray for the first time, a wise voice told her 'go back to bed Liz.'
This sets the tone for the book really; witty but with a serious tone too. Essentially, her need to find contentment comes down to needing spiritual enlightenment. While that idea might make some people squirm in their seats, myself included, she handles it very well, in that she manages to remain true to herself in the telling of her story, without bogging all her readers down in a lot of 'religious mumbo-jumbo.'
Fortunately her very personal spiritual experiences, which are interesting for the most part, are not the sole focus of the book- she uses plenty of humour, meets lots of interesting characters and tells stories that we can all relate to in some way.
Her purpose in visiting each country is evident from the book's title: the pasta shapes arranged into the word 'eat' represent her time in Rome where, by her own admission, she visited only one museum in her whole time there- the rest was spent piling on the calories in the form of truckloads of pasta, pizza and ice cream.
Her trip to India involves her staying at an Ashram in order to pray, meditate and pray some more. She has to get up before dawn each day and also spends 5 hours of each day scrubbing floors as a symbol of her total and complete devotion.
By the time she reaches Indonesia, where she had intended to find the balance between the pursuit of pleasure (represented by Italy) and the ability to retain inner peace (represented by her stay in India), she realises that she may be ready to love again.
If you're looking for a travel book then I would suggest this is not the right book for you, although I have to say that I found her descriptions of Italy so appealing, I instantly went to look up the price of holidays there. Her descriptions of Bali also make it sound like a veritable paradise, and well worth an extended visit. However, this will mainly appeal to those of you out there who feel that they'd like to indulge in a bit of self-improvement themselves, in the form of calling a halt to the everyday anxieties and discontentment we all experience from time to time, if not on a daily basis, or to anyone who wonders whether there might be something more out there than purely the earth we live on. It's certainly made me wonder, so convincingly does Elizabeth Gilbert recall her experiences.
Occasionally she is cringingly 'American,' and by that I mean that she has a habit of expressing her deepest emotions to all and sundry, and any fellow Americans she meets appear to respond in kind, by indulging her with some over-sentimentality of their own. I am referring here chiefly to an incident in which she tells her friend she'd like to get her husband to sign divorce papers, and her friend suggests they write a purely imaginary petition which anyone she likes can sign, supporting her in her wish. There follows a scene in which the two call out random names of anyone they think would support her, and her friend intermittently shouting 'Done! He / she just signed it!' Perhaps I'm just far too reserved and typically English to enjoy such a scene, but whatever the reason, I found it remarkably uncomfortable to read.
Despite what I've said though, most of the book is just very interesting, insightful, witty and informative, and I would highly recommend it. In fact, I intend to waste very little time in ordering the sequel.
Summary: The tour of the three Is in one year
More reviews in the field of Biography
- Seafaring Saints
- Surviving his foster mother's torture
- Strawberry Fields
- If you like Frank's humour, you will love his book
- A story of betrayal by those we should be able to trust most.
- I hope sharing helped them!
- My Banned Book read.
- Thought provoking little book on how to approach life, illness and death in a po ...
- Child Abuse takes many forms
- She-Wolves - Helen Castor
- Bullet Magnet - Mick Flynn
- Yellow Star - Jennifer Roy
- Frido Kahlo - Andrea Kettenmann
- Frida Kahlo Photos of Myself and Others - Vicente Wolf
- The Brontes - Kathryn White
- Behind the White Ball: My Autobiography - Jimmy White
- Jeffrey Archer: Stranger Than Fiction - Michael Crick
- Notes: On the Making of "Apocalypse Now" - Eleanor Coppola
- The Trial of Henry Kissinger - Christopher Hitchens
- The Missionary Position - Christopher Hitchens