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

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Description:

A transformational journey through Italy, India, and Bali searching for pleasure and devotion—the massive bestseller from the author of The Signature of All Things

This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali. By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls “Anne Lamott’s hip, yoga- practicing, footloose younger sister”) is poised to garner yet more adoring fans.

Features:
  • Paperback: 352 pages

Product Details:
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: January 30, 2007
Language: English
ISBN: 0143038419
Product Length: 8.4 inches
Product Width: 5.4 inches
Product Height: 0.8 inches
Product Weight: 0.71 pounds
Package Length: 8.3 inches
Package Width: 5.4 inches
Package Height: 0.9 inches
Package Weight: 0.15 pounds
Average Customer Rating: based on 3464 reviews
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1197 of 1365 found the following review helpful:

4Great, for what it is.  Apr 01, 2008
By taniam
I find it so surprising--reading the angry, negative reviews--that the people who hated the book hated it for exactly the reasons why some steer clear away from the the spiritual-journey-memoir genre. Yes, the author is self-absorbed, yes, she seems to think of only trite stuff, yes, she seems self-indulgent with her problems. And yes, she's allowed. It is after all a book that is positioned to address these things in the author's self; who otherwise would not be searching for something more: more meaning and more appreciation in/of her life.
Here is a woman who shows all the possibly-perceived-as-lacking-substance thoughts of hers and we are throwing tomatoes at her. One thing, she obviously wasn't afraid of that. She wasn't aiming to be coming off as some deeply wise woman but a fumbling girl-woman trying to break out of what she felt was imminent disaster (had she had the baby and delayed her need to find out what she truly wants from her life she might have left not only her husband, but their child, or most probably ending up not leaving out of guilt and becoming crazy instead: exposing her family to that for years; not an uncommon reality). She is not one for anti-depressants, remember.
This memoir falls in the same category as the TV show Sex and the City (of which it was compared to in a review here). Both get trampled for being supposedly superficial, covering the silly plights of city girls who don't know what they want and yet have everything. But this book--as the TV show--actually are part of a wider story that is illiciting reactions from the public because it reflects the transition in which women in the modern world are experiencing: now that we have equality with men professionally, now that we are liberated from all the limitations being a woman dictated two generations ago, how does that affect us? From a distance, in a glance, it seems that women have all the cards to play with now. But this book and many other works by women and/or about women of this generation show that having all those cards does not mean Happiness.
There are still things in society--in regards to a woman's role--that grates. And then there are things within our Modernised, Westernized, Individualized, Ambitious selves, that are lacking.
This is what Miss Gilbert's search is about, and what she represents.
On a collective level, much of the modern world is in search of God, Spirituality (one just needs to walk through bookstores in the US and see the plethora of soul searching self help books on the shelves). This is what needs to be observed and understood as a phenomena in the West; the small voices, small cries, here and there by those who come up with the balls to share their journeys and thoughts with us--no matter how trite-sounding, how shallow-seeming--are part of a collective howl for the meaning of life.
Elizabeth Gilbert's voice is just one of many that calls for recognition as part of a chorus for something that firstly, many women are hollering about, and secondly, humanity in general--humanity in the first world--are crying for: some kind of guidance, indication, that the collective paths we fought for and chose (the best education, career ambitions realised, a certain amount of money needed to live that certain kind of magazine-lifestyle life--which is what Liz Gilbert's life is a reflection of, remember--love in the form of marriage and what society dictates) are truly the things that give us peace and happiness in the infinite sense.
Eat, Pray, Love might not be that deep, wise voice representing the deep, wise journey into the deep, wise self. But this book's packaging and tone, hell, its WORDS, never did say it was. It is a fumbling--almost child-like in its guilelessness--show of the ego's awareness and needs, and its attempt at searching for what many people from all walks of life only wish they could go out and find: THEMSELVES. SELF, being the keyword here. And in this memoir, ultimately, God, being in each of our selves.
To the people who were disappointed that the author didn't seem to give a hoot about India's poverty, they must have not read the book through: Miss Gilbert never ventured out of her ashram and the little village it is located in, after making a decision to further develop her meditation skills and thus skipping the rest of India. She also ignored Italy's corruption with her indulging in good food and focus on learning and enjoying the Italian language. Again, the critics missed the point of this memoir. It's a book about a writer, a New Yorker, a recently-divorced-woman-in-her-early-thirties' journey to heal and find spiritual strength through various means: pleasure first to recover (Italy), spiritual examination and purging (India), combining the two for balance (Bali), which would result hopefully in the kind of substance and depth and balance that so many critics mentioned she lacks.
One doesn't pick this book up to: 1. Be exposed to India's poverty and expect the author to discuss that in depth. 2. Be exposed to Italy's corruption and expect the author to discuss that in depth. 3. Be exposed to Balinese wiles and expect the author to discuss that in depth. (which she actually did in the account of the Balinese woman she raised money for to buy the land the woman needed to build a home).

Next time you pick a book up at the bookstore, call up your powers of perception before purchasing it. A book IS pretty much its cover. Did everyone really expect a book titled "Eat, Pray, Love" A Woman's Search for Everything, to be an experience of religious fervor, one that would reveal the secrets of the universe? It's a story about a girl who thought everything she thought she wanted, would bring her happiness. It didn't. It didn't for her, and possibly not for many other women. If it took this one woman to go to Italy, India, and Indonesia, to get away after a difficult and painful divorce to heal and get perspective--instead of festering and turning into a pile of flesh in depression--then by all means. Yes, she financed her travels through her book advance--after giving away the suburban home and NYC apartment to her ex-husband. And if she wrote this book for us, it's really for us to appreciate and enjoy the ride with her. Anybody else who got so upset needed only to put the book down and pick another one to their taste. If anything, that's this book's lesson: Do what makes you smile and thankful for life.

56 of 61 found the following review helpful:

2Talented and funny, but tragically vacuous  Apr 01, 2008
By Amy92010
I have a hard time reviewing this book. On the one hand, Elizabeth is a very gifted writer. Her words flow easily through your mind as you read them and her book is engaging, charming, and pleasant to read.

On the other hand, I objectively find Elizabeth's lifestyle to be childish and irresponsible. I want to dislike her for this (as many other reviewers have). But I am somewhat sympathetic because I think there is a good chance she is bipolar.

She seems to have a difficulty commiting to anything in her life, and is constantly plagued by a turbulent mind. She vacillates between nights of sobbing depression (when reflecting upon her current 'commitments' in life) and giddy exuberance (when envisioning a potential abandon of those present obligations). She is constantly seeking "balance", which is something coveted by most bipolar individuals. If you read about her history in the biography on her website, you'll see that she lived as a vagabond traveler for much of her adult life, bouncing from odd job to odd job in search of the next great thing. A lot of bipolars are gregarious and charming (making lots of friends) at certain times, but during others they fall apart and are needy and annoying. Hence they have problems maintaining a stable relationship.

Elizabeth is someone who would be fun to meet and enjoy dinner with. Almost intoxicatingly funny and charming. But she would probably be a disaster to have as a roommate or long-term friend, because she is too self-absorbed by her unquiet mind.

I think this book is EXACTLY like the author. Some people love it for it's charming and vivacious parts. But other people see past that and really think about the character of the author and find the whole thing to be shallow, self-centered and annoying.

383 of 453 found the following review helpful:

1Glib, narcissistic and lightweight  May 14, 2007
By MLynn "MLynn"
I picked up this book on the strength of good reviews and found myself wanting to throw it at the wall. The author is a fine writer with a good sense of humor who seemed to want to write about her journey to self fullfilment, spiritual awakening and happiness. Instead she came off as a priviledged, slightly spoiled writer who needed an excuse for a writers advance so she could travel for free. She reveals herself to be a spiritual narcissist who obsessively navel gazes. While many passages are light hearted and funny and she is oh, so very clever and witty!! there was no real depth, no real meaningful questions asked or answered except for how she could get more breaks and be FULFILLED. It seemed like an extended article for SELF magazine. Instead order books by Kathleen Norris or even Anne LaMott for God's sake!

1561 of 1860 found the following review helpful:

1Eat Pray Shove (It)  Feb 16, 2008
By Lynne701
Here is a book that either changed people's lives or irritated the bejesus out of them. Count me among the latter.

Eat Pray Love - One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert was supposed to enlighten me. It didn't.

OK -- First the positive: Overall, it is a well-written book. The author takes many complicated metaphysical concepts and makes them readable. The book is divided into sections: Eat, which is the author's journey to Italy; Pray, her pilgrimage to India and Love, where she takes a lover in Bali.

This is about a thirty-something woman looking for spirituality and happiness. She is married, but desperately unhappy for no single reason that she cannot or will not divulge. So, she leaves her husband (and, by the way, gives him all marital property out of supposed "guilt" for leaving him, making me wonder what exactly she did to warrant this)and falls right into another relationship (a-ha! adultery, perhaps?). When the rebound relationship that broke up her marriage falls apart, she now wants to find God. Of course. She claims God spoke to her on the bathroom floor, thus beginning her journey.

But not before she goes to her publisher and secures a $200,000 advance for this book. Makes you wonder, as one reviewer on Amazon pointed out, was the journey retrofitted to the book proposal?

What better way to go find God than in Italy. For four months she eats gelato, practices her Italian with a young man named Luca Spaghetti (If you are going to make up names of allegedly real people, could you find a more sterotypical name? Why not Carmine OrganGrinder?) and gains 23 pounds -- quick to point out to the readers that she was way underweight to beign with.

She learns to enjoy life and be selfish from the Italians - who by the way still find her immensely attractive, although they don't hoot and holler at her like they did 10 years previously. But she is still so damned cute. Just ask her.

On to India. At the Ashram, she learns to meditate and still broods over her lost marriage and subsequent realtionship. Probably the most boring part of the book, except for her conversations with "Richard from Texas" -- a down home, larger than life character who speaks in folksy platitudes that would make Andy Griffith proud. He also bestows our author with her nickname "Groceries" because she was emaciated from grief from crying for the millionth time over her beloved David. As one reviewer from Amazon said, "What kind of nickname is Groceries?"

I honestly believe she made these people up. Reminds me of "Go Ask Alice" -- supposedly the real story of the drug-addicted Anonymous -- until it was revealed that the protagonist was a fictitious composite of the author's psychiatric patients. Boo.

Then Bali. She ends her self-imposed celibacy with an older Brazilian man. High on orgasmic ecstasy, out of the supposed goodness of her heart, she asks her friends to send $18K in donations to help a single mother, an alleged friend of Ms. Gilbert's, who is portrayed as a con artist because she didn't buy a house in the timeframe coinciding with the termination of Ms. Gilbert's visa. I always thought that a gift should be a gift without strings attached -- especially coming from someone who supposedly found God. I wanted to ask Ms. Gilbert "What Would Jesus Do?"

My biggest problem with this tome is that this 30-something woman basically is looking for applause for running off for a year, obstensibly supported by a $200K book advance, to "find God." I'm sure millions of women would love to leave their everyday lives and travel the world to do nothing but self analyze. If she had done volunteer work, I may have felt differently. If she went through some real hardship, I could sympathize. But she was in an incompatible marriage, then dumped by the guy she left her husband for. She should perhaps speak to those battling life-threatening diseases, or raising children alone, or taking care of an elderly parent, or worried about where their next meal is coming from.

And for all of her self-realization and navel-gazing to end her dependence on men, Ms Gilbert has, as pointed out by anotherAmazon reviewer, married her Brazilian and moved to new Jersey. She could have saved Penguin Books a whole lot of money by getting in her car and going through the Lincoln Tunnel. I wonder how long before she ends up back on the bathroom floor.

319 of 377 found the following review helpful:

1Symptomatic Of The Downfall Of Western Civilization...  Oct 29, 2009
By darklordzden "darklordzden"
Elizabeth Gilbert was a self-absorbed, married, thirty-something living the privileged existence of an affluent writer in the most powerful nation on Earth, when, suddenly - shock-horror - she realized that she wasn't happy. As a consequence, she cast aside her husband, took up with another man - with whom she still wasn't happy - and, after this relationship fell into inevitable dissolution, decided to run off around the world in order to "find herself" (one must assume that she'd already looked down the back of the sofa) after receiving a handsome advance from a publishing company to chronicle her subsequent exploits.

"Eat, Pray, Love" is pseudo-intellectual, altruistic, mother-my-dog pap of the worst kind masquerading as spiritual insight. Read between the lines and it expounds selfishness as a virtue and mindless hedonism as both philosophy and legitimate path to spiritual insight. Unsurprisingly, that great doyen of the gullible, Oprah Winfrey, loved it and made it one of her book club choices, thus unleashing it to a wider audience than Gilbert's talents as a writer would normally have ever allowed. Apparently, God help us, a big-screen version with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts is currently in the offing.

As a literary construct, Gilbert herself seems to be the contemporary living embodiment of Tom and Daisy Buchanan from "The Great Gatsby", of whom F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness...and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

"Self-absorbed" does not begin to cover it; "self-centred" is not nearly an adequate description. One hopes that she can't really have been so completely inured to the poverty of India and Indonesia by her solipsism. If so, then she seems to be genuinely emblematic of a subset of the "sex and the city" generation of women who put their own self-gratification above all other things. Worryingly, this attitude seems to be becoming increasingly more prevalent in western society.

I will be honest, I first happened upon this book after briefly seeing some of Winfrey's interview with Gilbert on television and consequently read three quarters of the book in my local library - and was so completely incensed that I felt it my civic duty to warn you off of this book.

If you want a genuinely enjoyable book to provoke introspection, this isn't it, but may I politely suggest Tom Hodgkinson's How to Be Idle: A Loafer's Manifesto and The Freedom Manifesto: How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste or Lin Yutang's The Importance Of Living in it's stead; If you want a decent travelogue, may I politely suggest any Bruce Chatwin's books, and if you really want to read a writer with talent give the exponents of the Gilbertian philosophy of self-aggrandisement both barrels, then I strongly recommend Michael Bywater's Big Babies: or: Why Can't We Just Grow Up?

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