"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I finished Eat, Pray, Love last night. Apparently, a sensation that swept the land revolved around this book.

Okay, I knew that already. That's one of the reasons I avoided it up until now. There's also the fact that I thought it was a Christian memoir of a book, about how someone ate, prayed, and loved themselves into a devout state of being.

Instead, it is one woman's odyssey through three countries, a divorce, meditation, a relationship with God, three or four languages, and a few tons of pasta. I was surprised to find myself liking it.
The writing style opens a window into Elizabeth Gilbert's mind. We follow her through her divorce and into the realization that she needs to do something drastic to keep going. She's having a hard time coming to grips with her post-divorce relationships and love life. What better way to get over heartache is there than to eat your way through Italy and delve into a love affair with the Italian language, then head to India and Bali for more serious pursuits?

She makes friends, gabs up a storm, and ignores the historical sites and museums the tourists flock to in Italy. Instead of intellectual stimulation, she's looking for the crispiest calamari and the plumpest gnocci in town.

After gaining a few pounds (or a few dozen) she heads off to India to live in an ashram run by her guru. She makes friends, gabs up a storm, and muddles her way through spiritual enlightenment. Vicariously watching her work towards a still mind and compassionate heart makes it all seem like good fun, not the hard work I'm sure was actually involved in her transformation.

After losing a few pounds and gaining a world of inner happiness, she heads off to Bali, where she has sketchy, by-the-seat-of-her-pants instructions about possibly working for a local healer. In Bali, she makes friends, gabs up a storm, and finally finds love again.

By the end, I was rooting for her, but I was also unsure how long her new enlightenment would last when she was faced with the real world she'd left a year earlier- the world of New York publishing and business, where it's easy to get stressed and burnt out in a short matter of time.

All in all, Eat, Pray, Love made me want to go out and see the world. It's too bad I'm not a well-to-do writer from New York with a healthy savings account.