Eat, Pray, Love:
One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Penguin, 2006. ISBN 0670034711.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 03/14/2008
Review of the Month, April 2008

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

Elizabeth Gilbert had me in her clutches within the first few pages of this book. She is witty; she is smart; she cares deeply; and she is honest. Not only that, she is a fine writer.

After a painful and guilt ridden divorce and a passionately dysfunctional relationship, Gilbert determines that, in the next year of her life, she will follow her passions, one at a time. She calls her Italian stint "the Pursuit of Pleasure," and much of that pleasure is learning the beautiful language of the poet and eating, much eating. Gelato for breakfast? Why not? While indulging herself after American disasters with men, she begins to rediscover her own true self.

From Italy, she heads to an ashram for six weeks of meditation and spiritual cleansing. No more gelato for breakfast. Initially, she finds it difficult to keep to her path; however, her own tenacity (along with some new friendships) keeps her on track and moving deeper and deeper into her center. Some of her descriptions of her process and her distractions drew me into the ashram beside her. Sometimes I wanted to help her and sometimes I wanted to be her. Sometimes, I wanted to tell her, "Let go already!" The initial six weeks expanded into four months.

Then, she reaches Indonesia, answering a vague invitation, several years old, from an elder healer in a small village. Gilbert has fed her body, she has fed her spirit, and it is time to balance by feeding her heart. The old healer does remember her, after some prompting, and she begins spending her afternoons with him. Bali is paradise.

Every morning around sunrise there is a tropical birdsong competition, and it's always a ten-way tie for the championship. When the sun comes out the place quiets down and the butterflies get to work. The whole house is covered with vines; I feel like any day it will disappear into the foliage completely and I will disappear with it and become a jungle flower myself. The rent is less than what I used to pay in New York City for taxi fare every month.

Best of all, Gilbert learns that she can trust herself and another enough to have a serious relationship. Eat, Pray, Love is a delicious book.

Elizabeth Gilbert is a writer, a traveler and is married and living in rural New Jersey. Visit her website.

(See another review of this book, here)

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