Saturday, February 13, 2010

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


My rating: 3 stars
I'll be honest. I did not have any desire whatsoever to read this one but it was in a stack that someone gave me so I decided to give it a shot. I'm a bit of two minds about this book. I really enjoyed the first third. And I really DID NOT enjoy the 2nd third. And I thought the last third was okay. I found it to be a bit self-absorbed overall but I could have overlooked that as I think it made sense given the focus of the book. I'm not sure that I'd ever be interested in being friends with this woman but I can see why she appeals to other people.

It may be my own interest in Italy that kept me so engaged in the first 3rd of the book. I found the descriptions of the places visited, the people that she met and the FOOD that she ate to be wonderful. I found that part of her journey to be enchanting and it only made me want to visit Italy all the more.

The India section (part 2) was frankly not engaging to me at all. First, I'm not interested in India. I feel like I've read a TON of books about India, its people, etc. However, I found her lack of in depth discussion about the poverty of the country or any of the cultural background of the country to be very strange. For me, the entire section was SLOW and about as uninteresting to me as it could be. All the time spent meditating and musing about the small village she lived in while there just seemed contrived to me. I wasn't engaged and didn't find anything interesting in her India time. I even found myself skimming on occasion because I didn't care anymore about meditation, yoga or any of the other things she spoke so slowly and boringly about.

The third part was better than part 2 but not nearly as good as part 1. I know very little about Indonesia/Bali so it was interesting to learn more about the place and the people. I enjoyed her interactions with the people she met - the medicine man, for example. Very interesting to hear about her experiences with them.

Overall, I think the book was both engaging and boring. Which is a very interesting combination. I liked parts, hated parts. I never LOVED any of it, however. Not even Italy which had definite possibilities. I didn't dislike the author but I also wasn't particularly interested in her viewpoint which I found both fascinating (in that 'I can't stop staring at this accident' kind of way) AND self-indulgent, depending on the time/place in the book. I also understand that this was HER book, about her search, about her journey. But, when as a reader, I find it difficult to connect to that woman, it takes away from the overall effect of the book. So, I'm a bit perplexed by how much attention this book has gotten and how many people related so much to her. For someone so focused on enlightenment and what not, I found her lack of awareness and her utter selfishness to be very interesting.


  1. I, too, had a tough time with the India third of the book - but for different reasons. It focused so heavily on meditation and the spiritual which I found difficult to relate to - it just didn't resonate for me at all.

    I read the book while I was in Bali for vacation so I enjoyed that part too - her descriptions of the landscape and the people mirrored my experience in the country at the time.

    Thanks for the week!

  2. I meant "Thanks for the review" - another example of why I shouldn't multitask!