Eat Pray Love seems like one of those books that make people snicker at Oprah-loving ladies-of-a-certain-age (like me),one of those touchy-feely "and then I found myself" memoirs. They're usually the kind of book that makes me want to slap someone- hard. But then curiosity overcame me, I picked up the audiobook and fell into the gravitational pull that is Eat Pray Love. Not that I drank the Gilbert Kool-aid altogether, but I'll get to that later.
So Rock Dwellers, Gilbert leaves her miserable marriage, falls into stupefying love with another man, breaks up with that guy too and ends up poor and homeless. Well, not you and me, poor and homeless. Successful New York writer poor and homeless, like she needs a new apartment and plump up her 401K. Instead of writing a book in the States, she convinces her publisher to give her an advance on a book she plans to write while travelling to Italy, India and Indonesia for a year. How does one get a job like this? Sign me up please.
For a few months she eats herself stupid in Italy, meditates it all out in Indian and tries to find balance in Bali. Along the way she thinks about herself and her place in the universe, wondering how she can find true happiness.
Eat Pray Love could have been brought to us by the makers of Calgon (Calgon: Take Me Away!). This is a woman's fantasy where Gilbert gets to eat everything she wants, goes to a place where people are quiet and then is worshiped by zexy mens. What's not to love? There was much I enjoyed about Eat Pray Love but for everything I liked there was something I did not. I spent several days trying to get a handle on my ambivalence before posting my thoughts.
Gilbert tries very hard to convince the reader of how unhappy she was in her marriage without actually explaining why. Somehow she managed to wrestle sympathy out of me despite my confusion. If you are that miserable, fill yer boots, leave. Jumping into a new relationship was an obvious mistake. The book was setting up a 'here's Liz making bad decisions' scenario with the pay off being she'd have it all figured out by the end. Okay, I'm with you there too, but did she really not know why her husband wouldn't just let her go? She's frolicking on the beach with her new lover while the hubs is trying to sell the giant house of sadness. I'd be plotting a Count of Monte Cristo style revenge not just dragging my feet on the divorce if I was that guy. This niggled at me throughout because the ex's refusal to forgive kept coming up over and over. The guy has a right to his feelings, if she has the right to leave.
The book is divided into 36 stories about each country, which made for enjoyable listening. Some stories are longer than others but they all had a point, a little lesson learned. Italy, all about pleasure, is what you expect, a funny and exciting cultural experience. I could have spent the whole book in Italy. In India, Liz gets serious about mediation and while interesting, it dragged in places. I fell asleep a couple of times. Bali was beautiful, a paradise where Liz finds the medicine man who was the inspiration for her journey. It was supposed to be about finding balance, but mostly it was about thinking about sex, contemplating whether or not to have sex and then having lots of sex.
Gilbert's writing style is lovely, conversational and often humourous, but, here's that but again, some of the scenarios were, um, woo-woo. The solutions to her problems come to her in dreams or out of the mouths of people who seem to be in the book just to offer insight into Liz's love life. She rarely suffers even inconveniences and some of her commentary is irritating: I make friends easily, my sexy lover can't keep his hands off me, all that sex I've been having is making me sick.
Despite all of that, I do appreciate the message behind it: follow your own path. Hopefully, it doesn't take an ugly divorce to discover what that is. Gilbert's own journey is beyond the reach of most of us; not many people can put their lives on hold for a year to find themselves. Maybe little journeys of self-discovery should be our goal. I found an interesting article, claiming Bali is overrun with ladies looking for themselves and writing books. Following someone else's journey defeats the purpose of a journey of self-discovery, don't you think?
About the audio: Liz Glibert narrates her own book which I appreciated. I often wonder if the person narrating is emphasizing the text the way the author meant it. I couldn't help but imagine Julia Roberts though. She's actually 8 years older than the Liz in the book. I hope I look like Julia Roberts at 42 when I'm 34 (2 years ago).
Recommended for people interested in travel, meditation or self-discovery.