Thursday, June 7, 2007

Book Report: Eat Pray Love by Elizabet Gilbert

This book is a log of the geographical and spiritual journey of the author. She travels from a failing marriage in the suburbs of New York, followed soon after by a frantic love affair, into a solo voyage around Italy, India and Indonesia.

In the beginning of the book the author travels to Bali for a magazine story. While there she meets a medicine man who reads her palm, conveniently foreshadowing the rest of the book. Importantly, he predicts that she will come back to Bali to live with him and help him with his English. She then returns to New York to finalize her divorce and begin getting on with her life.

Italy is the first stop on the author's journey. She is drawn there by her love of the Italian language, and her desire to explore pleasure in a culture that understands it so thoroughly. She feasts on pasta (much of this section is lost on me, having no love for Italian food, but I can relate if I pretend she's talking about France) and on the language.

After fully indulging in the pleasures of Italy, the author goes to an ashram in India to devote herself to prayer and spiritual growth. While here she experiences various levels of spiritual enlightenment and works on the spiritual scars of her divorce & failed love affair.

The author then travels to Bali and revisits the medicine man who read her palm some years earlier. In perhaps one of my favorite scenes in the book, he doesn't actually remember her. But alas, eventually he does remember her and they become friends. He becomes yet another spirit-guide in her journey, and is my favorite character of the book. His modesty is a nice contrast from the author's own arrogance & self-centeredness.

Which brings me to my overall opinion of the book. It's a nice travel-log, there are really nice descriptions of the places she visits and the book poses interesting questions about spirituality. But I found the author excessively self-centered, even for an autobiography of sorts. Every experience she has is described as though it is the most significant thing anyone has ever experienced. After supposedly reaching enlightenment at the ashram in India 'sitting in the palm of God's hand', she reads a friend's email describing the adventures of the Explorer's Club - people who had traversed mountains, canyons, volcanoes, dealt with sharks, frostbite, floods etc. and thinks to herself "you ain't seen nothing'. "

She does acknowledge her faults, and has a sense of humor about herself, which balances some of the ego. In the book's favor, it's short, a lot happens, and it's well edited, and I'd recommend it for light summer reading.

So that's my book report. I like the idea of book-reports. I don't like the idea of 5-page-single-spaced-book-reports-due-on-Monday -with-an-oral-report-in-front-of-the-class, but I like the idea of a short little highly opinionated book report (review, critique... whatever you want to call it). I like it so much that I think I'm going to start my own book-club ala Oprah (you know how much I love Oprah!) So the next book in Rebel's Book Club is The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. If you've read it, or you want to read it, or you hate the very idea of it and can't believe anyone would ever read it... just keep an eye out and I'll be posting a book report about it as soon as I'm done reading it, and you can all make as many opinionated comments as you'd like.

5 comments:

Gorgeous said...

I stumbled upon the #1 Ladies Detective Agency by accident in an airport bookshop and I really enjoyed it (and its many sequels) so I hope you like it, too!!

jenn said...

I'd seen that book at the store, and vaguely considered reading it, and now I feel like I a. don't have to and b. don't really want to. thank you!

might i respectfully request that you provide links to amazon.com (or some other book store) for the books you discuss so that lazy people like me can effortlessly go find out what The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is about and then decide if we want to mock you for wanting to read it? thank you again!

jenn said...

clarification--I'd seen Eat Love Pray at the bookstore. I've never heard of the detective one.

Rebel said...

The link to amazon.com for the books I'm reading is on the right hand bar under "on the book shelf" although for Eat Pray Love is a link to the author's own site. So you can just move your mouse a little too the right. Or are your arms painted on? ;-)

Rebel said...

to, not too. it's early.