Eat, Pray & Love: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Mantra


Jana gave me Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray & Love when I was in KL a few months ago.

We’re both book-mad in the same way and love the same kind of reads. But Jana’s more feminist than me so I was surprised that this non-fiction was slipped into my hands, with an urgent “read it”.

Have I heard of Elizabeth Gilbert!

She was interviewed on Oprah sometime ago and I had caught that episode but it didn’t make sense to me as I hadn’t read the book yet (then).

And with all things ASTRO, they always have re-runs so I managed to catch the same episode AFTER I read her book.

One Woman’s Spiritual Journey

Elizabeth Gilbert personifies much of the modern woman in a prickly situation. She is a writer. This book is real. It’s based on her one year of travel first to Italy (to eat), to India (to pray) and to Indonesia, Bali island (to love as love found her!). It sounds unreal because she was given a book deal to travel and write so this book is the result of that one whole year.

When she started, or rather before she started her journey to the three countries beginning with “I” (it sounds contrived, does it not? Everything seems to fit. To fall seamlessly into its own place of ironies. Her own journey, looking for herself, “I”…three countries, three different missions, one goal – to discover herself. Maybe I am too bloody jaded about Americans.

Maybe.

Her story is one that most modern women share. She was in a marriage, trying for a baby. Found herself not wanting either. Didn’t know how to get out of it.

When she finally divorced, she decided to go after what she really wanted in life.

To learn Italian in the native country of Italians.

To eat without feeling guilty (the sin of today’s civilisation!)

To spend 4 months each in Italy, India and Indonesia.

To go to an ashram in India and learn meditation.

To find the medicine man in Bali (Ketut Liyer) whom she had met years ago and to become his ‘assistant’ and English tutor.

Eventually she found love in Bali.

She returned home, wrote this book and it touched so many women because it’s adventurous, exciting and deeply philosophical.

Why I Adored This To Bits

Sigh. We’re women lah. We empathise with such books. We flock to such authors. They give us reasons to discover ourselves.

I would be a liar if I said I didn’t like her book. I loved it. I felt I was taken on the same journey to these 3 countries and saw the same landscapes, met the same people, laughed at the corny jokes, loved and hurt, and teared at the same time.

Gilbert is not a soppy writer; her strength is in her words, flowing softly like a breeze. It rushes out at you at certain times, augmented by her love of self deprecating humour despite her heartbreaking circumstances. She kept me glued to the book because I really needed to know if she reached her goal.

If you’re a woman and love travel and culture, Elizabeth Gilbert may make you eager to jump onto the next plane and go in search of Ketut Liyer, her Indonesian medicine man. I loved him because he was just so real!

This book is a keeper.

You would want to dip into it just for fun and accompany her on her spiritual path once in a while to remind you of your own spiritual journey too.

Something you can pass on to your girlfriends too.

While you’re at her website, read her thoughts on writing too. Lovely!

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