Title: Eat, Pray, Love
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
No. of Pages: 334
First Released: 2006
Synopsis (Courtesy of B&N): “Oddly but aptly titled, Eat, Pray, Love is an experience to be savored: This spiritual memoir brims with humor, grace, and scorching honesty. After a messy divorce and other personal missteps, Elizabeth Gilbert confronts the “twin goons” of depression and loneliness by traveling to three countries that she intuited had something she was seeking. First, in Italy, she seeks to master the art of pleasure by indulging her senses. Then, in an Indian ashram, she learns the rigors and liberation of mind-exalting hours of meditation. Her final destination is Bali, where she achieves a precarious, yet precious equilibrium. Gilbert’s original voice and unforced wit lend an unpretentious air to her expansive spiritual journey.”
Comments and Critique: Have you ever read a book that completely envelopes you in its words, calming your hectic mind and allowing you to feel more composed, calm, and relaxed than you would normally be? I read this book at one of the most stressful points of the past few months – in the middle of studying for my second certification exam. During the last test, no matter what I was reading, I could not shut off my brain. I slept horribly, could not focus, and was an overall basketcase. One or two chapters of Eat, Pray, Love and I was all of those things described above and more. I felt zen-like. I felt…amazing.
Divided into three sections to reflect Ms. Gilbert’s focus and country in which she was staying, the flow of the book could have been disjointed and difficult to follow. Rather, the story flowed because of Ms. Gilbert’s progress on her journey to find peace and balance. Her growth over the course of the book is visible and shapes each word and sentence. The emotional turmoil at the beginning of the book eventually gives way to the most amazing feelings of peace, unity, and love. A reader cannot help but cheer Ms. Gilbert on her progress as well as envy her the financial ability to be able to take such a journey.
There are times where the subject matter becomes difficult. Anyone who has loved fiercely and lost will recognize Ms. Gilbert’s pain and suffering. Personally, I struggled with her focus on faith and God. While I was born and raised a Catholic, am raising my children to be Catholic, I have so many doubts and fears and a overall lack of faith that I probably should not be called a part of any religion. I have panic attacks at the thought of death and leaving this world. As a result, I wavered between fighting back the panic as Ms. Gilbert discussed her viewpoints on such ideas as Heaven, Hell, God, karma, and other items of faith and pure envy that she was able to open herself up to the possibilities and was able to discover a faith that works for her. Everyone should have that opportunity to do so, even if it does not mean spending four months in an ashram in India.
There is no way I am going to do justice to this book. The timing of it could not have been more perfect. I was struggling to maintain my composure in the face of this test and was able to do so with the help of one of Ms. Gilbert’s mantras she chanted while in India. Ms. Gilbert’s language is simplistic but poetic at the same time. Her descriptions of the food in Italy, of the peace and serenity in India, and sheer beauty of Bali left me wanting to drop everything and follow in her footsteps. While reading, I found myself reflecting on my own life, the spiritual holes to which I should attend, the calm I so desperately crave. I found myself taking notes throughout the book, something I never do while reading, as I want to remember Ms. Gilbert’s comments on happiness, on faith, on being whole. My favorite quote is as follows; I find it so inspiring:
Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings (pg. 260).
As this year for me has been all about self-discovery and development, this was the perfect book to read. I can see various readers getting different life lessons out of the book based on where they are in their life, which is perfectly acceptable. Ms. Gilbert even stresses the idea that her journey was what she needed at that point in time in her life. However, I feel the poignant life lessons she shares with the reader are worth the time taken to read them and can be adapted to the individual. Eat, Pray, Love is a simplistic and yet completely powerful book – one that will stay with me for a very long time.
Have you had the opportunity to read this yet? What are your thoughts?