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

3.7 out of 5 stars 3,910 customer reviews

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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: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143038419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143038412
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 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 (3,910 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
I've read several of the reviews posted here and though I couldn't finish this book, it seems to me that what's wrong with it is not so much the author's hollow-souled narcissism but her lack of intellectual seriousness. Someone gave me this book as a birthday present. That it has received a lot of attention is no surprise. Look at the drivel America reads. Light, shallow laughs, sex, food, not much real thought. That's the sum of this book. Feel-good rubbish that inspires not one iota of serious thought. Gilbert's slapphappy universe is one in which everything can be solved with pizza and fresh mozarella. Every paragraph contains at least one stock one-liner. This isn't literature. It's stand-up comedy of the worst kind. We've read it all before. She claims she can make friends with anyone. It's precisely that lack of discernment and depth that makes this story forgettable. The prose is laced with one cliche, one trite and cutesy obvservation after another. Some reviewer here said this book is not a book but a magazine article. Exactly right. I finally closed the book when I read that while in India she wanted to "valet park" a destitue family into a new life. It isn't just that the phrase is a silly toss-off modernism but that there's no true emotion in it. You'll never know how this woman really feels. Don't waste your money on it.
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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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