Sunday, March 13, 2011

BOOK REVIEW - "EAT, PRAY, LOVE"

Eat, Pray, LoveEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Having resisted both the book and the film for some time because of the hype, I finally decided I had to find out for myself what all the fuss was about. Now, I know you shouldn't see the film first, but that's what I did and, like most people, I guess, I enjoyed the Italian, "Eat" part but was puzzled by the middle, "Pray" part, which I did not particularly enjoy. I did quite like the final, "Love" part - who could not, when it's got dishy Javier Bardem as Felipe? - though I must admit I couldn't relate to Liz's reluctance to go away with him!



Anyway, it all made me want to read the book to find out more about Liz Gilbert's true story and I have to say, it is not your usual kind of travel book: it is, as it claims to be, the tale of "one woman's search for everything" and it is well written, witty and intriguing. The only problem is that many of us may think that Ms Gilbert already had pretty much everything: an acclaimed writer and journalist, she had beauty, money, a life-style to match and what most women would regard as a perfectly acceptable lover.



However, I can understand why someone with the means - and Ms Gilbert does admit that she was lucky to have the means - would want to spend time "marvelling" at the food and beauty of Italy and, apart from the fact that her character seems to think that language learning consists of absorbing the contents of a dictionary, the Italian section of the book is highly readable. Ms Gilbert does write beautifully about food but those of you who have seen the film may be disappointed to learn that the scene where the Italian landlady explains how to use the bath is not in the book;  sadly, it was always extremely unlikely that someone with pigeon English would have no difficulty with the passive tense with "get".



In short, I loved Ms Gilbert's descriptions of Rome, disliked her dismissal of the city of Messina and nodded as I read her observation that visiting a place requires a totally different kind of energy to that needed when you live there.



The second part of the book presented more problems for me, just as the middle section of the film did, and I put some of this down to my British cynicism, for it seems to me that Ms Gilbert's guru had it made: no one with any real problem was allowed to visit her ashram, those who had suffered recent trauma were also barred and people actually paid good money to go there and wash floors. I became increasingly incredulous as I read and frankly, the descriptions of chanting soon turned into endless chants themselves.



It was a relief, then , to reach part three of the book and I did learn a lot about Balinese history and culture from it. From the character of Felipe I also learned more about how people react to extreme poverty and I am grateful for that. But again, the endless descriptions of meditative processes began to pall and the cynic in me wondered again at the self-indulgence of it all. I also wanted to know far more about Felipe and the process of learning to trust again.



Would I recommend the book? Yes, because there is much to learn here and much can be forgiven because of Ms Gilbert's writing style. But do not expect a light read in the form of a straightforward travel book or romance!



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22 comments:

Laura said...

I took the book to Spain with me last year and settled in with a glass (ok, it was a bottle) of wine expecting to savor the story. When I finished it I wished that I had stopped after the "eat" section. But I think I could sit through the "pray" section of the film just to get to Javier....

CherryPie said...

On balance it sounds like a fun thing to explore :-)

PinkAcorn said...

The movie was dreadful. I fell asleep some where in the "pray" section. The same section I thought the book was boring, I guess.

Patricia said...

I am in 100% agreement with you. I enjoyed the Eat portion...especially because I am trying to learn the language and I identified with that part of it. I have tried meditation so the second part of the book, held some interest for me. I preferred the book over the movie.

rosaria said...

Ah! I refuse to see the film because I thought the book was self indulgent at the very least, and too superficial for my taste.

Leslie: said...

I enjoyed your review and feel somewhat the same about the movie - have not read the book - and felt that some of it was rather trite. I couldn't imagine PAYING to wash floors and sit and "meditate" for as long as she did. I found that part of the movie far too long, except for the older man that told her his story. I'd have preferred a long part 3 - yes, because of Javier Bardem, I admit! - I don't think I'll read the book because I had enough of the story with the movie. Love your review!

Pranavam Ravikumar a.k.a. Kochuravi said...

Good review. I don't know whether we get this here. I will try. Thanks for the post. You have a nice day.

James Higham said...

I've started a woman's book too and am reviewing it today.

"one woman's search for everything"

Ah yes.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Thanks, Pat. I'd not heard of either film or the book. I did greatly enjoy reading your review.

LindyLouMac said...

I enjoyed reading your review as a lot of your thoughts were similar to mine! I am still not sure about seeing the film.

Winchester whisperer said...

Haven't been inspired to read or see it

rochambeau said...

Hello Welshcakes,
Glad you got to read Eat Pray Love. I really liked it. For me it is one woman's unique journey of how she moved forward in her life. I don't think she ever dreamed her book would touch so many others.

I met her, and went to her and her husbands shop in Frenchtown NJ. a few times. They have a business called Two Buttons, that helps others in Indonesia and India. While there, she, her husband and friends were kind to me and mine.

xox
Constance

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Laura. I know what you mean - I expected to savour the book, too, but it just wasn't that sort of read. Yes, Javier saves the film! Hi, Cherie. Yes, worth exploring. Hi, Pink. It was all I could do to stay awake, too! Hi, Patricia. Yes, I preferred the book, too. Hi, Rosaria. Yes, it was the self-indulgence that got to me. Thanks, Leslie. Yes, a longer part three was necessary, I think. Hi, Pranavam and thank you. I hope you are having a good day, too. Hi, James. I'm dying to find out what you deem a womasn's book! Hi, Nick and thank you. Actually I'd love you to read the book or see the film as I'd be interested to know what you would make of either. Hi, LindyLouMac. I don't think you'd enjoy the film if you didn't like the book. I think it would irritate you even more! Hi, WW. I think it's worth exploring one or the other.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Constance. Thanks for telling us how you met elizabeth Gilbert. That is very interesting.

annechung said...

The only reason I bought the book was it was .25 cents at a flea market. I read one page, I threw the book in the trash. I've never read a worse book in my life.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Anne. Now that's what I call decisive action!

Melanie said...

Gah, I read the book but it was all "me, me, me, MEEEEEEE!" and grew wearisome after awhile. After that, I didn't want to see the movie (even with the lure of Javier :-). She gave a talk recently at the local University, but I couldn't imagine going to hear her talk about herself some more. Boring!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Melanie and welcome. I agree about the "Me, me,me" aspect.

Michelle said...

Liked your review. I really did not enjoy the book or the movie. Had high hopes for them both.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Michelle and thanks. I found the movie a great disappointment.

MorgannaBannana said...

My review: this book is amazing. The cover of my book says adult bestseller but I read this book and thought it was great, and I am only 13 years old. It is full of humor, a few cuss words, and it takes you on a wonderful journey. For some, this book could change your life. Elizabeth Gilbert did a fantastic job writing this book and it was an honor to hold it in my hands to read her valuable words. I strongly recommend this book to any one at any age. Thanks.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, MorgannaBannana and welcome. I'm so glad you liked the book so much and thank you for telling us about it here.

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