Published By: Viking
Release Date: 2006
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I would like to begin this review by saying that this book was totally out of my comfort zone. Memoirs are not typically something I spend time reading, but I needed to read one for the Branching Out challenge. As we all know books are almost always better than movies so I decided to give this one a try before seeing the film. While I loved parts of this book, I found others to be tedious.
Let's start with what I loved about this read. I loved Elizabeth's writing style. She writes in a way that not only brings her stories to life, but in a conversational tone. Throughout much of this book, I felt like Elizabeth and I were just chatting away about her excursions around the world. It reminded me of the fact that she says in the beginning of the book that she has never had trouble making friends. Perhaps she channeled this into her writing.
I also loved the section of the book devoted to Elizabeth's time in Italy. The food, locations, and people she meets were fascinating to me. I believe this may be because I have always wanted to travel to Italy as well. I will make it there some day. Pizza in Naples is on my list of musts for when I do make it there.
There were also aspects of her time in Indonesia that I enjoyed. Seeing her let go of all her pain and enter a romantic attachment again was one of my favorite parts of the book. It just shows how resilient the human heart can be. We can break our heart over and over, but there is always that one special person who can help us patch it up again.
However, I found the whole section in India to be tedious and at times plain boring. I kept wanting something more exciting than meditating and star gazing to happen. Even Richard from Texas, as humorous as he was, couldn't make the India section more entertaining for me. As Elizabeth was in India praying to become closer to God, I was just praying for the next section of the book to hurry up and arrive.
I also felt that the whole religious soul searching thing could be obnoxious at times. Part of this I totally take the blame for - I knew this was a memoir about a woman trying to find her spiritual place in the world. However, even knowing this, I still found myself skimming over certain sections that felt too preachy. Some of her opinions about religion and other topics just didn't sit well with me. This didn't make the book a bad read, but it did contribute to a lower rating.
I would say give this book a try if you are looking to read a memoir that won't put you to sleep. However, be aware that opinions on this book are wide spread from those who loved it, those like me who found it a good read, and those who hate it.
One Last Gripe: Elizabeth came across as self absorbed and snobby at times.
My Favorite Thing About the Book: The Italy section
First Sentence: When you're traveling in India - especially through holy sites and Ashrams - you see a lot of people wearing beads around their necks.
Favorite Character: Elizabeth
Least Favorite Character: David
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.