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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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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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That’s exactly what she needed - rest. She needed to be strong. She planned a one-year vacation in which she hoped to mend her broken heart and to find peace. She would spent four months in Italy; four months in India and four months in Indonesia. She points out that each country begins with “I’ and this journey was about self discovery.
It’s a must read for people like me who’ve had our hearts broken, and then those hearts never seems to mind. I’m still aching over the loss of my dad and my birth family. I’ve studied meditation with differing results. This book proved a how-to book on how to heal.
Chapters were not intended to be how-to chapters, but that’s what many of them were for me.
Most of us can’t drop everything and rush to an apartment in Rome and then to a retreat in India and then to Bali. But we can learn yoga and meditation anywhere. We can order pizza and make new friends.
If you aren’t hurting and you don’t need the guide to meditation and self discovery, it’s still a great book. The collection of 108 personal essays are fascinating with lots of fresh insights into the human psych and the types of characters that one usually finds only in a novel. There’s Richard the Texan who nicknames Gilbert, “Groceries; there’s the plumber who takes her to the highest spot at the Indian retreat, there’s Ketut the medicine man who is somewhere between 65 and 112 years old and Wayan the medicine woman searching for a home. It’s hard not to fall in love with these characters. Gilbert gains weight in Italy, self awareness in India and self confidence in Bali, Indonesia. And she finds love.
Some chapters are too pat. She discovers the four brothers who are sort of guardian angels we all have. On her way home that day, a monkey threatens her, but she is feisty, and she stand up to the creature. After all she’s got four tough brothers protecting her. Too pat. The chapter was contrived.
The reader is so busy rooting for her that he forgets his own troubles - except to put the book down for awhile to eat, pray, meditate and fall in love.
That’s a lot to get from one book.
Rereading this book allowed me to more slowly savor the beautiful prose, to ponder the truths of an insight, to laugh out loud along with the author. I especially appreciated reading the introduction added to this ten year anniversary version because it offered me some reflection questions to muse on as I was reading. I did not need to get swept along in the pace of the story because I already knew what happened. So instead I read, with consideration of my own journey, inspired to dream a little bigger and to face my fears with a little more courage.
I will likely read the book again at some point in the future, perhaps for a milestone birthday. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who dares to dream about what it might look like to take their desires to be the best version of themselves and then to consider how to structure a journey of transformation that will help them to arrive at that place. I like that this is the author’s message to her readers: to allow her story to inspire them to creat their own path based on what is most feasible to them, which begins by asking, “what if?” And then walking towards the answer with courage.
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At first, when I started reading this book, I thought it was going to be...Read more
This book has come to me at a time in my life when I am learning to be my own best friend. Thank you