After seeing the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” (a few times), I got curious about the book.
Some told me it was good, but not as good as the movie, some said the book was a disappointment, while others still loved the movie but downright hated the book.
With so many different opinions, I wanted to compare for myself.
The first thing I noticed was that Liz’s four months in Italy seemed weak. Having a thorough knowledge of Italy, in particular of Rome and Naples, I found the writer’s description of the cities amateurish. Almost as if she had researched the cities online, rather than actually spending time there.
Her description of the ashram and her spiritual journey in India I found fascinating, although it bothered me that she continuously grieved over her failed marriage.
As a happily divorced woman myself, I can understand that she mourned lost love when she first separated from her husband, but she divorced the guy for heaven sake. If she loved him that much, she should have stayed with him.
Still, I continued reading. That is until I got to the deep meditation part. I found it a little hard to swallow that Liz’s one and a half hour of pray singing every morning at the crack of dawn helped her nephew, who was thousands of miles away, sleep better. But okay, I could get past that.
What I couldn’t get past, and what I thought was complete baloney was her statement that she had seen God, been with God, even been inside God. That did it for me. I had enough of this and abandoned the book.
Now it so happened that a few days later I met Amid, a young Indian man from Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta.
Ever curious about other countries, their customs and their people, we got to talking and I asked Amid if India was as poor and desolate as some stories led on.
“Not at all,” he chuckled. “India is a thriving country with beautiful architecture, many businesses and young entrepreneurs, luxury homes and exotic cars such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bugatti and of course Porsche.”
One topic led to another and I asked if he had ever been to an ashram. Amid shook his head, an ashram was not his cup of tea. He knew about them of course, but he wasn’t keen on them.
“They’re for people who want to get closer to God, right?” I asked him.
“Ashrams are for rich people who want to get closer to God,” he corrected me.
“And the poor people?” I asked.
Amid shrugged. “They have to find God elsewhere on their own.”
He was familiar with Elizabeth Gilbert’s story, “Eat, Pray, Love” and had nothing good to say about it. He loved the movie and he loved Julia Roberts’ performance, but the book he classified as absolute rubbish.
According to Amed, Gilbert romanticized the ashram experience and exaggerated shamelessly. He classified her as an attention seeker who had but one goal … to have her story published and would have gone to any lengths to do so.
I tend to agree with him. Some parts of the book were good, but Gilbert went a little too far, thus turning an educational story into a bunch of nonsense.
What bothered me about this author is that nobody can reach her. Plenty of bestselling authors have a “contact me” button on their website and a page on Facebook. They encourage their readers to get in touch with them and are happy to hear from them.
Not Gilbert. She can’t be reached through her website and neither can anyone send her a message via Facebook.
What is Gilbert so afraid of?
After reading a few reviews on Amazon, I found a lengthy one of Lynne701 that hit the nail on the head. Rather than copying the whole review, I’ll limit myself to merely mentioning Lynne’s second last paragraph which states:
My biggest problem with this tome is that this 30-something woman basically is looking for applause for running off for a year, ostensibly 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.
Lynne's review was appropriately titled "Eat, Pray, Shove".