Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth Gilbert

The first I ever heard of Eat Pray Love was when the Julia Roberts movie came out back in 2010. Though I generally like romcom movies, the trailers weren't particularly appealing, and I didn't watch the movie. I knew that the movie was based on a book, but I had no intention of reading it. When it comes to books, the whole romcom genre is something I can't handle.

But sometime last year, I read an interview with the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. The interview was part of the promotion campaign for her latest book, The Signature of All Things and it made her seem fairly intelligent and common-sensical. So I thought that maybe I'd been mistaken in dismissing Eat Pray Love as a mere romcom. And I decided to try the book. 

The result in three short words? Biggest. Mistake. Ever. I should've just stuck to my original snap judgement.

Eat Pray Love describes a year in Gilbert's life. Some time after a divorce in her early thirties, she decides to take a year off from normal life and spend four months each in three different countries around the world. She spends the first four months in Italy, learning Italian and eating a lot of pasta. The next four months are spent in an ashram in India, meditating and whining about how depressed she is. The final four months are spent in Bali, where she ends up falling in love with a Brazilian guy. Does the book cover make sense now?

Why did I dislike the book so much? Well, mostly because of her sheer whining. 

Her divorce has made her SO depressed. Yeah, because SHE didn't leave HIM. And because it HASN'T been two years since the divorce, during which she's had another relationship as well.

She'll NEVER find another man. Nobody loves her. Yeah, because she's not a pretty white woman with a successful writing career and enough money to spend a year traveling around the world. 

I'm usually sympathetic to fellow women in distress, but reading this book, all I could think was, "Get over it already!" The heavy dose of pop spirituality in the India section of the book didn't help either. She goes on and on about meditation and kundalini shakti and what not. It was so terrible it was funny. And then later it stopped being even that. (Here's an interesting article on Gilbert's spiritual guru.)

The only parts of the book I enjoyed were the later chapters in the Italy section (where she finally decides to get off her ass and explore Italy), and her initial explorations in Bali (before the Brazilian guy comes into the picture).

And now comes the contradictory bit. Despite not liking this book, I'm in two minds on whether to try her next book. The thing is - Gilbert can write well. The good writing is visible in bits and pieces amidst all the whining and the crying. And the second book (Committed) sounds promising - an investigation into how the whole concept of marriage is seen around the world, inspired by her imminent marriage to the Brazilian guy.

Maybe she'll be tolerable if she whines less? Watch this space to find out.
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