I dreaded writing the review for this book for two reasons: 1) It’s a bestseller, and 2) It has very vocal anti- on its sleeves. Worse, it has a movie version. However, having read the book I felt I wanted to give my two-cents worth on it. I won’t get into much of the storyline and the writing as I’m 100% sure if you Google it you’ll find tons of sources.
First, let me tell you that I didn’t plan to buy or even read this book. I have an aversion for books that get massive popularity and are featured in Oprah. Why? I used to purchase such books, but after reading a few of those recommended by bestseller lists and Oprah, I found they weren’t my type of stories. Which leads to the question: Why did I buy it then? Well, every time I saw it in the book store it compelled me and a book supplier was selling it for cheap, so I thought why not.
I get those reviews that say the book is self-centered and essentially talks about a White woman trying to get a man. I understand the whole hoolabaloo on the subject. While reading some parts in Italy and maybe even Indonesia I did see what they meant, but what do we expect from a memoir. It is about her. Hence, it’s unavoidable to think about it as selfish or self-centered. And I think Gilbert’s issues on men and relationship were properly presented. Her issue made her leave. I think if we look at Eat Pray Love as a memoir rather than some spiritual inspirational book we’ll be easier with our criticism. Others were also outraged at the idea of the book promoting traveling to solve your real problems. I don’t think that is the point of the book. Gilbert in the earlier chapters set up who she was: a traveler and well-paid writer. She also explained how she lost everything, right until a publisher paid her a hefty amount to write about her travel. To her, traveling was something she liked and did, to believe that she is promoting it as a means of solving one’s problem is too off tangent. I think the real point of contention is how can such a book (a memoir even) be such an international bestseller? Hadn’t it been a bestseller maybe we will not nitpick the issues after all it cannot touch a whole set of people. But, it is a best seller. The author didn’t go write this book and tell herself it will be such. The readers did (maybe Oprah had her hand in it). It is possible that to the majority it did resonate, it did touch a part of their lives, and it did offer something.
I didn’t think the memoir to be awe-striking. It was, if anything, entertaining, candid and engaging. Gilbert made you feel like you were a friend and she’s telling you everything. I love that at every part of her travel I had a glimpse of the places she went to. I also sensed that she was able to effectively capture vital parts of each culture. Even the way she wrote, her lines and narration reflected the mood of her travel. If I were to choose my favorite part, it would be India. Her insights on faith, spirituality made me think. At some points, I agreed with her and at some points, I doubted her. But of all the three parts, this section caught my attention.
My sister asked me, after reading the book, if it was a good book. I hesitated. It didn’t leave me with lingering thoughts which I like about books, it didn’t leave me stunned which tells me it’s a good book, and it didn’t sway me to travel. It isn’t the best book, but it’s engaging enough and it can still possibly make me check out her next book. Then maybe, I just couldn’t relate to most of her issues.
Have you read the book? What did you think of it?