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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia Hardcover – February 16, 2006


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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.
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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
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (February 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670034711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670034710
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,625 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,043 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,231 of 1,407 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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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Reading at the Shore on March 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Oh, Dear! The New York Times Book Review says, "If a more likable writer than Gilbert is currently in print, I haven't found him or her..." There must be something wrong with me, then.

There is much I admire, certainly: her humor, energy, and fearlessness. She's a wonderful writer. But I'm afraid she's also spoiled and shallow. Why the personal attack? Because she laid out her personal life for profit, so sure she was that we would love her: "There, don't you find me as fascinating as I do?", and her purported wisdom was hyped to such a degree that book clubs all over the country were duped into selecting it. Yes I'm irritated.

Because I assumed Gilbert was a grownup, or I'd never have read this thing.

Poor Richard, the husband she dumps because she "didn't want to be married anymore." She loftily says she will not expose his "issues," but subtly emasculates him in print anyway. She is a cliché, only the genders are reversed. More often we hear it's the man who grows restive; finds an attractive package who "understands" him (in Gilbert's case it was a handsome actor and skilled womanizer named David); dumps spouse but not before the safety net of the new relationship is in place (Gilbert mentions somewhere that she never went five minutes since puberty without a boyfriend); is incredulous that the rejected spouse makes it difficult for him to leave. One thing I will say for her. She didn't have a baby.

But David, as Richard before him, is wrung out by her neediness. I thought he sounded relieved when it was over. In Italy, the dreamy Giovanni, ten years younger, is improbably wise and nurturing. He seems older than she, she explains, and right out of the gate, on the first page, she is wishing he would kiss her.
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408 of 482 people found the following review helpful By MLynn on May 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book on the strength of good reviews and found myself wanting to throw it at the wall. The author is a fine writer with a good sense of humor who seemed to want to write about her journey to self fullfilment, spiritual awakening and happiness. Instead she came off as a priviledged, slightly spoiled writer who needed an excuse for a writers advance so she could travel for free. She reveals herself to be a spiritual narcissist who obsessively navel gazes. While many passages are light hearted and funny and she is oh, so very clever and witty!! there was no real depth, no real meaningful questions asked or answered except for how she could get more breaks and be FULFILLED. It seemed like an extended article for SELF magazine. Instead order books by Kathleen Norris or even Anne LaMott for God's sake!
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1,610 of 1,917 people found the following review helpful By Lynne701 on February 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Here is a book that either changed people's lives or irritated the bejesus out of 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.
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