The reason that I picked up the book, was because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I admit to being susceptible to the hype. And at times reading this book I have wished I had not let myself get washed away with the hype but there are some elements and points in the book which hit home and really did make me reflect on my own life.
This is the story of Elizabeth Gilbert who spends a year out of her life, after a bad divorce trying to find something – she does not know what yet, but hopes that her three main travel destinations India, Rome and Bali. Here the book is separated into these three places and what each place does for Elizabeth.
In Rome, (Eat) Elizabeth discovers food, and the simple pleasure it can give someone, who has all the time to sit and eat and enjoy. She practices her Italian because she can, there is no purpose to her wanting to learn it and she meets different people along the way who show her Italian food and converse in Italian. This is all Elizabeth wants from Rome and it is all she gets fundamentally, she restores her health both mentally and physically by this slowing down and fuelling the body.
In India, (Pray)Elizabeth tries to find herself spiritually through Yoga, meditation and to me somewhat clearing her mind of the racing thoughts she has through her head constantly about all things that have happened to her in the past and perhaps she could have done differently. This section of the book, I found rather difficult to read, possibly a good thing as Elizabeth obviously found a lot of difficulty just being there as well fighting those demons to be alone and comfortable with her thoughts. Something changes in her and she finds exactly what it is she is looking for.
In Bali, (Love) Elizabeth goes back to the ‘medicine man’ that has healing powers and predicted her prophecy a few years previous. Here love is the key; she finds love in her meditation now it becomes part of her everyday practice. Love in the form of new friendships and the helping of other people in this case Wayan and Tutti – again another healer both physically through herbs and also mentally. Felipe becomes the catalyst and the turning point for Elizabeth for me the last part which needs to be healed and so the book ends.
For me the book made me recognise the practices that I have adopted throughout my life, to find stillness, calmness but not something that I could call spirituality not that I was looking for any of this. . I recognised myself when Elizabeth was India and was trying to come un-jumble the thoughts in her head. I know mine take me over, and I can see it happening but I also know that I can sort it out in my own time. Enjoying life and everything it brings in whatever form, wherever you are in the world is the key to this book. Mindfulness is never mentioned in this book but is something which could apply here – just enjoying what you are doing and savouring the pleasure – certainly true of the food in Italy. Elizabeth Gilbert has successfully written a book which has succeeded on good PR, and it was interesting it was funny it was sad in parts, but it has not changed my life in anyway and I cannot say it is a book that all women must read.
Having now read this book, I am in two minds on whether I want to see the film or not? I like Julia Roberts, and I agree she is the perfect actress to take on the role of Elizabeth Gilbert, but I am not sure if the film will just lower my opinion of the book. I have recently read another ‘find yourself’ story recently in Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler. I think although I have enjoyed both of them, ‘finding yourself’ books are a very unique read and offer a great outlet for the author but any reader gets so many differing things from them. Which is why I think recommending a book such as this, could be a difficult thing. Better to quietly discover these books on your own.