Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

First, I need to thank my friend, Carolyn, for a wonderful birthday celebration. Though it was back in October, this book was the basis of the theme for this year's birthday. I was in the middle of another book at the time, but as soon as I finished it, I began Eat, Pray, Love. This one took me quite a while to read, but it was well worth it.

Elizabeth Gilbert writes her memoir in three sections. She was lucky enough to afford an opportunity to travel to three destinations and stay away for nearly a year. This desire to "escape" from her daily life stemmed from a horrible divorce, another break up, and an overall early mid-life crisis.

The first place she traveled was Italy. Her love of the language and the food is what took her. The way she describes the food she ate was so vivid and wonderful. In the three or so months she was there, she gained 23 pounds! She also wanted to learn the language and worked with a young Italian man in a sort of exchange program. She taught him English and he taught her Italian. Gilbert has a very dry sense of humor that I loved to read. I often found myself laughing out loud. After only a few pages, I was quoting a line that referred to a vegetarian friend of hers who eats bacon. It was that kind of unusual wit that I really enjoyed.

Next, she was off to India to spend time in an Ashram and learn from her Guru. Honestly, I struggled with this section the most. I thought she was physically going to enhance her yoga practice, when in fact she was learning the spiritual side of yoga. I hear that there are women who have read this book and it has changed their lives. Personally, I had a hard time buying into the non-Christian views that she was taught. In the end however, she was at peace and spending time meditating and praying was exactly what she needed to help heal her mind and soul. The most interesting part of her Indian journey for me was her relationship with a man from Texas who called her "Groceries." He gave her this name after having dinner with her the first night they met and noticing how much she can eat. Richard was the bright spot in a pretty heavy, intense section of the book.

Finally, it was off to Indonesia to spend time in Bali with a medicine man she had met a few years before. I found this section to be very entertaining. The medicine man was a genuine, peaceful man who was somewhere between 65 and 112 years old. In her time with him, she was never able to get any closer than that. He taught her different ways to meditate which included "smiling in your liver." This was much more believable for me. She also met a woman who was a healer too and their relationship was truly fascinating to read about. I also enjoyed learning about Bali and the Balinese culture. It was in Bali that she met a Brazilian man and fell in love (after much resistance). And at least as the book ended, they were planning on making a very long distance relationship work. She was recently on Oprah, and once I watch that I will hopefully find out if they are still together!

Without giving too much away, I would highly recommend Eat, Pray Love. Maybe you will get a more spiritual connection from it than I did, but even if not, Elizabeth Gilbert is an intelligent, witty writer.