Thursday, February 21, 2008

Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Love

Guest Review by Kit Bradley
February 20, 2008

After going through a devastating divorce, Elizabeth Gilbert takes a year long trip to Italy, India, and Bali – and rebuilds herself emotionally and spiritually. I’d say this is a chick flick, er… chick book. Roughly two thirds of the reviews quoted on Gilbert’s web site are by women. The book is full of emotional and spiritual crises and enlightenments, along with a constant undercurrent of romance.

And I loved it! Every page! Gilbert is a great traveler, and she has a quality I’ve seen in other travelers – she makes friends with ease. I’m envious! Her writing style is totally open and frank, with a nice undercurrent of humor. And now I feel like a friend too. May I call you Liz?

It’s clear Liz needed to do something radical to rebuild her life, and it seems her travel adventures were just the ticket.

Off we go to Italy. What would you do and see for four months in Italy? Liz has the discipline to stick to two things – learn to speak Italian, and eat Italian food. The language is beautiful and the food is delicious. Being Liz, of course she meets a lot of interesting people, but she has sworn off any serious relationships for this year of travel. Will she actually do it? It’s not looking good – the first chapter starts off with “I wish Giovanni would kiss me.”

And then there is the food. Liz couldn’t stay away from the local gelato shop in Rome. One day she visited a pizzeria that serves the best pizza in Naples, and Naples has the best pizza in Italy, and Italy has the best pizza in the world! She eats the whole pizza. And orders another. By the end of four months Liz has gained twenty-three pounds. Oh well, she was too skinny when she arrived in Italy. And she won’t be eating as well in India…

Four months of this pleasure have helped Liz partially patch her life back together. But there is more to patch, and we’re off to India. She had met a Guru in New York, and she now will spend four months at her Ashram. She is immediately immersed in a life of meditation, chanting, and scrubbing floors – a difficult change of pace, but the very challenging discipline leads to some moments of enlightenment. “Where can I find a small corner of stillness?... God resides in these pockets of silence.” Liz makes new friends, again, that help in her search. At the end of four months she has reached a more spiritual level of peace and is less stressed over her divorce.

On to Bali. Liz had earlier met a medicine man in the town of Ubud, and she goes there to learn from him – learning some new meditations. She makes a lot of friends, of course, including another healer. And she gets involved in their lives. And meets some attractive men. And relaxes into some enjoyable relationships. This is four months of relaxation and happiness. Does Liz keep her commitment to refrain from serious relationships for the entire year?

This is a beautiful book. I loved the travel. And it was inspiring to watch Liz grow from a devastated divorcee to a happy, whole, more spiritually centered woman. Enjoy!


Nate Bradley said...

This sounds very much like NOT my kind of book. But with Kit's recommendation, I probably should give it a try. I do like to branch out of my norm every now and then. It helps keep my mind healthy.

I'm not sure that I can buy the idea that the best pizza in the world comes from Italy. My wife lived in Italy for a year and says the pizza was just weird - not the same mix of cheese and meat toppings that we are used to. But maybe pizza completed the circle, taking its American influence back to Italy. It may be kind of like Mexican food. If you admit that what you like is really TexMex, then you won't like the authentic Mexican from south of the border. In any case, it's hard to believe that Kit would promote any pizza as being better than Tony's in Alton, IL.

But I suppose all that stuff about pizza is really incidental to the point of the book.

Kit said...

I would LOVE to try a Tony's pizza again. Do they still exist?

I'm sure Liz liked the pizza in Naples better than pizza in her home city of New York. She loved ALL the food in Italy. And all this stuff about food is central, not incidental to the the book!

If the review didn't make the book sound interesting, you probably won't like it.

Me. said...

I'm excited to read this book now. I have noticed people reading it on the subway and in parks but never took the time to see what it was about. It sounds like it might inspire some of the same travel spirit in me. Thanks.