Elizabeth Gilbert writes a first hand account of her search for the meaning of life and love. It is a search that centers on her extensive travels through three countries: Italy, India and Indonesia. She decides to embark on this large scale adventure to help herself deal with the difficulties of being emotionally and physically drained after her marriage ends. The book is divided into three sections, each section devoted to her visit in one of the three countries. From the first page of the book until the last, her writing style including word choice and sentence structure breathes life into the text. It is as if Gilbert is right there like a good friend personally telling you her story. I was also struck by her humor and wit. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions.
If the book was so damn good, why did it take me several months to finish it? I was busy. I got distracted. I had other priorities. Maybe. But in all fairness, Gilbert’s account of her time in India was excrutiating. While in India, she spent all her time in an Ashram praying, meditating and searching for a “cure all” cathartic experience that would rid her of her past pain and heartbreak. She tortured herself. She cried hysterically. She nearly lost hope. I put the book down and did not return to it for months. Why, you might ask? Because I was going through a particularly painful time in my own life, and Gilbert’s feelings of loneliness and sadness hit so vividly close to home for me that it was difficult for me to read about her struggles. I reveal this only because I want to highlight how real, honest and raw Gilbert portrays her life throughout the book. It was refreshing.
My favorite section of the book is the final one: her time in Indonesia. I won’t reveal too much about it because I want you to read the book. But, believe me, it’s worth the wait. Gilbert has been criticized for being whiney and spoiled. She’s also been praised as a self-improvement guru and worshipped as a demi-god. I think my support of Ms. Gilbert is somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I appreciated her most for her honesty. She put herself out there (regardless of the fact that her account was part of a lucrative book deal). She served up a little slice of her life on a platter for her readers to interpret and judge as they please. She never pretended to be faultless, but also didn’t constantly make excuses for her behavior. Eat Pray Love. It’s worth checking out.