Here is a book that either changed people’s lives or irritated them. Count me among the latter.
Eat Pray Love – One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert was supposed to enlighten me. It didn’t.
OK – First the positive: Overall, it is a well-written book. The author takes many complicated metaphysical concepts and makes them readable. The book is divided into sections: Eat, which is the author’s journey to Italy; Pray, her pilgrimage to India and Love, where she takes a lover in Bali.
This is about a thirty-something woman looking for spirituality and happiness. She is married, but desperately unhappy for no single reason that she cannot or will not divulge. So, she leaves her husband (and, by the way, gives him all marital property out of supposed “guilt” for leaving him, making me wonder what exactly she did to warrant this)and falls right into another relationship (a-ha! adultery, perhaps?). When the rebound relationship that broke up her marriage falls apart, she now wants to find God. Of course. She claims God spoke to her on the bathroom floor, thus beginning her journey.
But not before she goes to her publisher and secures a $200,000 advance for this book. Makes you wonder, as one reviewer on Amazon pointed out, was the journey retrofitted to the book proposal?
What better way to go find God than in Italy. For four months she eats gelato, practices her Italian with a young man named Luca Spaghetti (If you are going to make up names of allegedly real people, could you find a more sterotypical name? Why not Carmine OrganGrinder?) and gains 23 pounds — quick to point out to the readers that she was way underweight to beign with.
She learns to enjoy life and be selfish from the Italians – who by
the way still find her immensely attractive, although they don’t hoot and holler at her like they did 10 years previously. But she is still so damned cute. Just ask her.
On to India. At the Ashram, she learns to meditate and still broods over her lost marriage and subsequent realtionship. Probably the most boring part of the book, except for her conversations with “Richard from Texas” — a down home, larger than life character who speaks in folksy platitudes that would make Andy Griffith proud. He also bestows our author with her nickname “Groceries” because she was emaciated from grief from crying for the millionth time over her beloved David. As one reviewer from Amazon said, “What kind of nickname is Groceries?”
I honestly believe she made these people up. Reminds me of “Go Ask Alice” — supposedly the real story of the drug-addicted Anonymous — until it
was revealed that the protagonist was a fictitious composite of the author’s psychiatric patients. Boo.
Then Bali. She ends her self-imposed celibacy with an older Brazilian man. High on orgasmic ecstasy, out of the supposed goodness of her heart, she asks her
friends to send $18K in donations to help a single mother, an alleged friend of Ms. Gilbert’s, who is portrayed as a con artist because she didn’t buy a house in the timeframe coinciding with the termination of Ms. Gilbert’s visa. I always thought that a gift should be a gift without strings attached — especially coming from someone who supposedly found God. I wanted to ask Ms. Gilbert “What Would Jesus Do?”
My biggest problem with this tome is that this 30-something woman basically is looking for applause for running off for a year, obstensibly supported by a $200K book advance, to “find God.” I’m sure millions of women would love to leave their everyday lives and travel the world to do nothing but self analyze. If she had done volunteer work, I may have felt differently. If she went through some real hardship, I could sympathize. But she was in an incompatible marriage, then dumped by the guy she left her husband for. She should perhaps speak to those battling life-threatening diseases, or raising children alone, or taking care of an elderly parent, or worried about where their next meal is coming from.
And for all of her self-realization and navel-gazing to end her dependence on men, Ms Gilbert has, as pointed out by anotherAmazon reviewer, married her Brazilian and moved to new Jersey. She could have saved Penguin Books a whole lot of money by getting in her car and going through the Lincoln Tunnel. I wonder how long before she ends up back on the bathroom floor.
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