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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia Paperback – January 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Gilbert (The Last American Man) grafts the structure of romantic fiction upon the inquiries of reporting in this sprawling yet methodical travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery. Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. First, pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights--the world's best pizza, free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners--Gilbert consumes la dolce vita as spiritual succor. "I came to Italy pinched and thin," she writes, but soon fills out in waist and soul. Then, prayer and ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise "betwixt and between" realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a charged love affair. 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.
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

At the age of thirty-one, Gilbert moved with her husband to the suburbs of New York and began trying to get pregnant, only to realize that she wanted neither a child nor a husband. Three years later, after a protracted divorce, she embarked on a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gustatory, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for "balancing." These destinations are all on the beaten track, but Gilbert's exuberance and her self-deprecating humor enliven the proceedings: recalling the first time she attempted to speak directly to God, she says, "It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, 'I've always been a big fan of your work.'"
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038412
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,753 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, as well as the short story collection, Pilgrims--a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper's Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine, and her stories have appeared in Esquire, Story, and the Paris Review.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,271 of 1,449 people found the following review helpful By taniam on March 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
I find it so surprising--reading the angry, negative reviews--that the people who hated the book hated it for exactly the reasons why some steer clear away from the the spiritual-journey-memoir genre. Yes, the author is self-absorbed, yes, she seems to think of only trite stuff, yes, she seems self-indulgent with her problems. And yes, she's allowed. It is after all a book that is positioned to address these things in the author's self; who otherwise would not be searching for something more: more meaning and more appreciation in/of her life.
Here is a woman who shows all the possibly-perceived-as-lacking-substance thoughts of hers and we are throwing tomatoes at her. One thing, she obviously wasn't afraid of that. She wasn't aiming to be coming off as some deeply wise woman but a fumbling girl-woman trying to break out of what she felt was imminent disaster (had she had the baby and delayed her need to find out what she truly wants from her life she might have left not only her husband, but their child, or most probably ending up not leaving out of guilt and becoming crazy instead: exposing her family to that for years; not an uncommon reality). She is not one for anti-depressants, remember.
This memoir falls in the same category as the TV show Sex and the City (of which it was compared to in a review here). Both get trampled for being supposedly superficial, covering the silly plights of city girls who don't know what they want and yet have everything.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By maya j on September 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
'Eat, Pray, Love...' was a book I liked and disliked at the same time. On the one hand, it was fresh, witty and fun, and on the other hand it would devolve into obsessive ruminations about Liz Gilbert's failed marriage, her attempt to find God and her sadness and perceived "misery". It was at once clever and boring, hot and cold, cathartic and self-indulgent. It's not a horrible read (closer to 3-1/2 starts), it's just that over the course of the book, the incessant whining takes its toll.

The book begins with Liz Gilbert questioning her marriage. She ultimately leaves her husband, finds a boyfriend, gets rid of him too and thus starts the quest for God and the meaning of "her" life. She does this by eating her way through Italy, praying and meditating in India, and hanging out and making whoopee in Bali. Initially I loved her insight and wit. I found myself actually laughing out loud at her intuitive commentary; but then I found myself getting bored (and frankly irritated) at her droning on and on about being so sad and devastated, and the pain she was in, and the heartache, and sorrow and misery, ad nauseam. I was waiting for her to describe something truly miserable, heart-breaking or tragic that had happened in her life, but all I found was a woman who went through a couple of failed relationships and acts like she's the only one in the world who's been through it. I kept thinking, good grief, get over yourself girl! I mean, really, the majority of women who go through divorces (or worse) pick themselves up and move on without self-indulgent self-reflection for a week, nonetheless a whole year! Most of the women I know have no time for self-pity, and Liz Gilbert was "The Queen" of self-pity (at least in this book).
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373 of 442 people found the following review helpful By DLD on October 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Gilbert was a self-absorbed, married, thirty-something living the privileged existence of an affluent writer in the most powerful nation on Earth, when, suddenly - shock-horror - she realized that she wasn't happy. As a consequence, she cast aside her husband, took up with another man - with whom she still wasn't happy - and, after this relationship fell into inevitable dissolution, decided to run off around the world in order to "find herself" (one must assume that she'd already looked down the back of the sofa) after receiving a handsome advance from a publishing company to chronicle her subsequent exploits.

"Eat, Pray, Love" is pseudo-intellectual, altruistic, mother-my-dog pap of the worst kind masquerading as spiritual insight. Read between the lines and it expounds selfishness as a virtue and mindless hedonism as both philosophy and legitimate path to spiritual insight. Unsurprisingly, that great doyen of the gullible, Oprah Winfrey, loved it and made it one of her book club choices, thus unleashing it to a wider audience than Gilbert's talents as a writer would normally have ever allowed. Apparently, God help us, a big-screen version with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts is currently in the offing.

As a literary construct, Gilbert herself seems to be the contemporary living embodiment of Tom and Daisy Buchanan from "The Great Gatsby", of whom F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness...and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

"Self-absorbed" does not begin to cover it; "self-centred" is not nearly an adequate description.
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