Why is it that when you read a bestseller, more often than not, you are disappointed? This book Eat, Pray, Love also is not as great as all the reviews make it out to be. And how lots of women are raving about it. The fact that I am from India, the place where one-third of the book is based, and I understand this country fairly well, could be my bias while reading the book.
The book begins with the explanation of 108 chapters in the book. Which are equally divided among three countries that the author traveled. The three words in the title describe her quest or her discovery in each of these countries. She discovered pleasure through food in Italy. Devotion through prayers (read staying in an ashram) in India. And love in Bali or Indonesia where she wanted to balance her pleasure and devotion. It seems more than a coincidence that the three countries have names beginning with the letter I. And the book is supposed to be a self-discovery for the author.
First few chapters are devoted to set the context by describing a divorce that the author has gone through. Now we all know and have seen that divorces are painful and traumatic for the people involved. But the author seems to be focused only on her side of the pain. Even when she shares that it is she who willing to walk out of the marriage and not her husband. The book was paid for by the publishers. So the whole trip of one year looks like being planned out for the book. Rather than the experience being shared in the form of the book Eat, Pray, Love.
I did not discover anything new about any of the three places she mentioned after reading the book. All I could gather was her personal journey that too was very self-focused, with no connection actually established with the place. Though in the Bali chapter you would like to believe there is a connection that she had with a few people. But it was only till they were giving her selflessly.
Overall I found the travelogue very shallow and missing in depth. The concept was terrific, but the content could have been far more intense. But probably the book was written with the western audience, especially women in mind, and they may find this level of intensity fine.
Recommendation: Light travel reading, you may read.
Shashi, thanks for gifting me this book…:-)
Buy this book – Eat, Pray, Love One Woman’s Search for Everything by Elizabeth Gilbert at Amazon India.