This week’s reviews are from WRL’s Development Officer, Benjamin Goldberg.
I cannot recall why I picked up this audio recording, but whatever the motivating factor, I am glad I did listen to Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth Gilbert’s 30-something memoir of discovery and discussion is entertaining and educational. Her life experiences are vastly beyond what most of us will ever encounter, yet the clarity of soul she develops as a result of her travels is something from which I think most people could benefit.
The title of this book refers to the author’s year-long journey filled with epiphany, serendipity, and equanimity. Following a horrible and devastating divorce, Gilbert has the opportunity to travel for a year. She spends four months in Italy, four months in India, and four months in Indonesia. On each leg of her trip she focuses on herself in a different way, enjoying wonderful food first, then delving into meditation and self-awareness and eventually finding love in Bali (Indonesia).
Gilbert is upfront about how fortunate she was to be able to experience this year of exploration. Had she failed to acknowledge how extraordinary her opportunities were, the book would have been more a travel log of a privileged woman than a discourse of revelation. In Italy she pursues her lifelong desire to learn to speak Italian. Living in Rome, she soaks up the culture through the people, food and language. Before heading to her second country, two changes in Gilbert’s are evident. Her path to healing has begun and she’s gained weight from eating delicious food.
In India, Gilbert has arranged to visit the Ashram of her guru. During her time at this temple of meditation and prayer, the author transitions from a person haunted by her demons, to a woman who has conquered much of her darker side. With humility and beauty, she describes her spiritual experiences that bring her more peace of mind than she had previously ever known.
The author’s final destination is Indonesia. In Bali, her life’s paradigm shift is completed. Not only does she improve the lives of the people around her through acts of personal charity and gain the friendship of a ninth-generation medicine man, but she also finds the love of her life. Bali is the final puzzle piece in her jigsaw journey of discovery.
Throughout her travels Gilbert collects a bevy of personalities and characters that move her own story forward. She admits that she is blessed with an outgoing, welcoming personality that helps her find friends anywhere. There seems to be divine providence at work during her year abroad. From the coincidences of travel to the people she meets, everything comes together to make her transformative story work.
I know Eat, Pray, Love was made into a movie, but I missed it and have no interest in seeing it. The book is so well-crafted, I do not believe any film could do it justice. Gilbert’s style is clear, gentle and enlightened. Not only is this book written in Gilbert’s voice, as a definite bonus, she also reads it to the listener. This brings a special element to the memoir because you can hear her emotions and her honesty. If you want a book about self-discovery, travel and celebration of life try Eat, Pray, Love.
Check the WRL catalog for Eat, Pray, Love