Eat Pray Love


I first saw this book when it was featured in The Oprah Winfrey Show. It immediately occurred to me that I must get it for Mich. And I did. The thing is, I was the one ended up addicted to and couldn’t wait to finish the book. I finished it some time last month, but I decided to give it some thought after reading Sue-May Tan’s review in The Star Online last week.

ELIZABETH Gilbert has my dream job. She was able to take a year off to travel and write, and was paid for it. Eat, Pray, Love is a travelogue-memoir of Gilbert’s travels to three countries – Italy, India and Indonesia – in a “search for balance” after a bitter divorce. The beginning of the book starts with Gilbert breaking down, crying on her bathroom floor and agonising over the breakdown of her six-year marriage, under-enthusiasm for motherhood and lack of desire to basically, be married.

Eat Love Pray is a pleasant read due to Gilbert’s friendly, casual style and humorous observations. In an Italian class in Rome, Gilbert describes her classmates voicing out why they are learning the language. “The German engineer says, ‘I want Italian because I love the dolce vita’ … the sweet life. (Only, in his stiff Germanic accent, it ends up sounding like he said he loved the ‘the deutsche vita’ … the German life, which I’m afraid he’s already had plenty of.)”

Throughout the book, Gilbert demonstrates a passion for words and language, and interpretations from an English-speaker’s point of view. If you’re interested in literary trivia, you’ll come to learn the origins of the Italian language, that a good eater is “a good fork” and interesting expressions like bel far niente – “the beauty of doing nothing” – a skill the Italians have perfected in their daily lives.

Among the three sections, my favourite is the one on Italy because, here, Gilbert simply describes her experiences, such as the delights of making lunch. “I walked home to my apartment and soft-boiled a pair of fresh brown eggs. I peeled the eggs and arranged them on a plate beside the seven stalks of asparagus (which were so slim and snappy they didn’t need to be cooked at all). I put some olives on the plate, too, and the four knobs of goat cheese I’d picked up yesterday from the formaggeria down the street, and two slices of pink oily salmon. For dessert – a lovely peach…”

I agree with her; my favourite section is also the one on Italy. I didn’t like the part on India so much due to its emphasis (almost close to advertisements) on meditation and the religious connotations. This, despite Gilbert’s “warnings” earlier in the book, I don’t quite enjoy.

Eat, Pray, Love is a book for anyone who enjoys the little delights of travelling. It’s been translated into 30 languages and seems to appeal to people, maybe more women, who are searching for that certain something in their lives. On a recent trip to Thailand, I happened to chance upon this book in front of the doorway of a small backpacker bookshop, indicating its “bestseller status” alongside other top travel reads such as Sophie Kinsella and Paulo Coelho. By the end of the book, Gilbert manages to find her balance or love or whatever you want to call it. But I suppose if I were given a small fortune to frolic across three continents, I’d feel somewhat satisfied, too.

I suppose that’s why I would still recommend the book to my gal friends, even though I do not advocate the spiritual practices described in the book.

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