After being extremely unimpressed with the film, I avoided reading Eat Pray Love for a number of years (even though friends recommended it). However, researching for my upcoming trip to Indonesia, I kept coming across it in book and travel blogs. Bearing in mind that I started reading with negative feelings, I actually got more out of Eat Pray Love than I had expected.
This memoir leads us along Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey to ‘find herself’ after a traumatic marriage break-up. She heads to Rome to explore the idea of indulgence, India to find enlightenment and Bali to learn to love again. Or something like that.
Having lived near Rome, I appreciated Gilbert’s experiences in Italy. Like me, she is in love with the country, the people, the language, and most importantly, the food! I was particularly pleased with her description of Naples, which often gets a bad press.
“I instantly love Naples. Wild, raucous, noisy, dirty, balls-out Naples. An anthill inside a rabbit warren, with all the exoticism of a Middle Eastern Bazaar and a touch of New Orleans voodoo. A tripped-out, dangerous and cheerful nuthouse… …The city is decorated with laundry that hangs from every window and dangles across every street; everybody’s fresh-washed undershirts and brassieres flapping in the wind like Tibetan prayer flags.”
I respect Elizabeth Gilbert for getting to know the real Rome. For eating too much gelato and meeting locals to practice her Italian. I like how she can tease Italy for its flaws, but understands that it just wouldn’t be the same without them, and part of loving Italy is to accept its imperfections.
Unfortunately when Gilbert leaves Rome, my interest in her journey fades. She spends a lot of time meditating in an ashram in India and goes on (and on) about about her guru, and even her guru’s guru, who passes on messages to her through her dreams. I’m not religious and I don’t meditate, but I’m far from being very sceptical about the benefits of meditation and spirituality. It was all just a bit too in-your-face. As was Gilbert’s struggles to come to terms with the end of her relationship. I’ve read some superb, insightful memoirs but this one seemed too self indulgent for my liking. I think Eat Pray Love could do with a being edited down a lot. Gilbert’s not a bad writer, in fact, I think she would make a great travel writer if she concentrated more on places and people and less on herself.
I’m glad I read Eat Pray Love but wouldn’t recommend it – unless you are the sort of person to visit a ‘medicine man’ to have your fortune told. Which, in case you haven’t already guessed, I am not.
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