*Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. This post is in no way sponsored nor does it feature any affiliate links. No copyright infringement intended: All extracts shared are those of which I believe will benefit the reader in relation to this review. Enjoy!*
‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – Elizabeth Gilbert – Book Review
Eat, Pray, Love. What a fantastic book. Recommended to me by a friend, it was a long time coming before I actually bought this book for myself and began to read.
It is now a book I will pass on to many and one I personally couldn’t recommend more.
Eat, Pray, Love is the true story of Elizabeth Gilbert, written in first person by Liz herself. Throughout this book Liz takes us with her on her personal journey of self discovery, travelling through Italy, India and Indonesia for four consecutive months at a time. This book will bite you with the travel bug immediately and have you dreaming of all these beautiful places, searching online for all the holiday deals so you too can have your very own Eat, Pray, Love experience. You’ll be packing your bags before you’ve even finished Chapter One!
Eat, Pray, Love is a journey of a story and one which I didn’t always feel like participating in. This story is one I had to be in the mood for especially when we were transported to India, which I’d say would have to be the deeper and more intense part of this book and seemingly Liz’s journey. Interesting, intriguing and informative, but a slow burner in terms of being a page turner. Throughout Liz’s journey in India, I wasn’t always desperate to read on to find out what happens next.
It took me a good few months to read Eat, Pray, Love. I started in April and finished in August. Italy was a fun journey, though one I read so long ago now I don’t remember it all too well, but right from the very beginning of this story I was folding pages over with quotes and extracts that resonated with me. One extract in particular stood out to me like a sore thumb, regarding the obesity crisis in Italy:
“Obesità! I Bambini Italiani Sono i Più Grassi d’Europa!” Good God! Obesity! The article, I think, is declaring that Italian babies are the fattest babies in Europe! Older Italian children are dangerously obese these days, too, says the article. It took me almost an hour to decipher this whole article. I’m not sure if I misread the last line of the article, but it seemed there was some talk from the government that the only way to deal with the obesity crisis in Italy was to implement a tax on the overweight…?”
…Mic drop. To me this sums the world up, though I believe in positive change. I don’t see tax as being the answer to Italy’s obesity crisis. In what way is taxing these people for being overweight going to help them? It isn’t. They’re still going to be ‘overweight’, they’re still going to buy their sweets, chocolates and pasta, they’re still going to eat what the heck they like. Taxing them for it will only fill the governments pockets, not help them in any way. In my opinion, love and lessons are the answer. Not tax. Teaching both adults and children alike the importance of a healthy, balanced and nutritional diet. If the government seriously cared about this ‘so called’ obesity crisis, if they truly cared about the citizens of their country and the health implications this obesity crisis could cause, they wouldn’t tax, they would teach. They would lower the price of healthy, nutritional foods and make them more accessible, they would introduce perhaps a walking programme to get people up, exercising, out of the house and breathing in fresh air. Sure, put a small tax on the sugary and ‘unhealthy’ items if so necessary (because we all need to make money) but taxing the overweight isn’t the answer. Helping them is. I’m aware this significant extract is very small in the grand scheme of this book and probably quite an irrelevant part of Liz’s own journey, but it really stuck out to me and played on my mind for a long time. I had to discuss.
What I loved about Liz’s journey in Italy was, firstly, all of the food (my mouth is watering right at this minute) and secondly, all of the friendships Liz developed during her stay in this country. Liz made lots of friends in Italy, forming beautiful, loving friendships and it was very much like these friends became her family (side note, I wonder if she is still in touch with them now?), they shared Thanksgiving dinner together, Liz being very much warmly welcomed into Rome. This demonstrates the love of the Italians and their importance of family greatly, and as someone who adores Italy very much, naturally reading all about Liz’s adventures in Rome has made me want to go back ASAP. I’d love to visit Naples once more too, as the food mentioned when she visited there sounds absolutely divine. Gimme all that yummy Italian food ASAP please!
After her four months in Italy, Liz travelled to India where she went to stay at an Ashram for a deep, intense, spiritual retreat filled with a lot of meditation. I found my interest dwindling in this part of Liz’s journey, not because I wasn’t interested because I was, meditation and Spirituality are things I’m evidently (if you know me) very much interested in but at this point in time when I reached this part of the book, I just wasn’t in the mood for that intensity. I was in the mood for a light hearted chick lit novel and wonderful as this book is, I wouldn’t describe it as a ‘light hearted chick lit’, it’s far too deep for that.
Eat, Pray, Love is a deep, insightful, enlightening and moving story. Experiencing India with Liz had me in tears at one point: When she went to work on healing her connection with her ex husband (see pages 195, 196 and 197). This I found was something that hit close to home and I could resonate with greatly, I’m welling up just skimming over the extracts to write this review. I was moved as I felt emotions of two souls connecting peacefully, the healing and letting go of a relationship in the non physical realm. I took this on board in my own life and now sometimes if and when I miss my own ex, or if I want to send him love, I send my soul to meet his and I forever send him love and light. Going forward, I know this is something I can do whenever I need to, and I am grateful for what I have learnt through Liz’s own journey of healing in Eat, Pray, Love.
Through Liz’s Indian journey, I gained so much more insight into the world of Spirituality and meditation that I found really interesting, and there were some very important life lessons in this part of the book. One being to always be yourself, about how God made you authentically you:
“God dwells within you as you. If there is only one holy truth of this yoga, that line encapsulates it. God dwells within you as you yourself, exactly the way you are. God isn’t interested in watching you enact some performance of personality in order to comply with some crackpot notion you have about how a spiritual person looks or behaves. We all seem to get this idea that, in order to be sacred, we have to make some massive, dramatic change of character, that we have to renounce our individuality. This is a classic example of what they call in the East “wrong-thinking”. Swamiji used to say that every day renunciants find something new to renounce, but it is usually depression, not peace, that they attain. Constantly he was teaching that austerity and renunciation-just for their own sake-are not what you need. To know God, you need only to renounce one thing-your sense of division from God. Otherwise, just stay as you were made, within your natural character. ”
That’s not to say we can’t work on bettering ourselves on the daily to become the very best version of ourselves, but we can remember that we have been made perfectly as we are, exactly how we are meant to be. We don’t need to change ourselves. Enhance? Of course. We can always work on becoming the very best versions of ourselves but that doesn’t mean changing ourselves. This extract sums it up perfectly:
“But at some point you have to make peace with what you were given and if God wanted me to be a shy girl with thick, dark hair, He would have made me that way, but He didn’t. Useful, then, might be to accept how I was made and embody myself fully therein. Or, as Sextus, the ancient Pythagorian philosopher, said, “The wise man is always similar to himself”. This doesn’t mean I cannot be devout. It doesn’t mean that I can’t be thoroughly tumbled and humbled with God’s love. This does not mean I cannot serve humanity. It doesn’t mean I can’t improve myself as a human being, honing my values and working daily to minimise my vices. For instance, I’m never going to be a wallflower, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take a serious look at my talking habits and alter some aspects for the better-working within my personality. Yes, I like talking, but perhaps I don’t have to curse so much, and perhaps I don’t always have to go for the cheap laugh, and maybe I don’t need to talk about myself quite so constantly. Or here’s a radical concept-maybe I can stop interrupting others when they are speaking. Because no matter how creatively I try to look at my habit of interrupting, I can’t find another way to see it than this: “I believe that what I am saying is more important than what you are saying”. And I can’t find another way to see that than: “I believe that I am more important than you”. And that must end.”
I think that wraps India up perfectly, so let’s move onto Indonesia, where our dear Liz ventured into Bali with no plan but to see her Bali Medicine Man, Ketut Liyer, who she met at the very beginning of her journey (see pages 27, 28 and 29). Ketut Liyer, the man who informed Liz that she would always be returning back to Bali to live for a few months and be his friend, it was her destiny.
Bali was my favourite section of the whole Eat, Pray, Love journey. This is where I was page turning, unable to put the book down as I was eager to know what happened next. There was story here, as well as life lessons and journey. This section was both intriguing, exciting and adventurous whilst still being enlightening, moving, deep and fulfilling. With a mix of everything, in this part of Liz’s journey I felt it all from great sadness and sorrow to happiness, joy and excitement.
The sadness came from learning about the history of Bali, which I was shocked to discover (see pages 247, 248 and 249) and also, the heartbreaking and sorrowful story of Liz’s friend Yudhi, who she met in Bali (see pages 258, 259, 260, 261 and 262). Yudhi is a good Indonesian man who, as a teen, got a job working on a cruise ship which then led to him moving to America where he worked, lived and married an American woman named Ann. They lived happily in New York, enjoying life together and with their friends. Then the tragic events of 9/11 happened, which led to Yudhi being deported from America having being arrested essentially for being an immigrant and not holding an updated US visa or full US citizenship. He was held in detention for a while until being sent back to Indonesia for being an alleged ‘Islamic terrorist suspect’, separated from his wife unsure if he would ever be able to return to America again. This whole story breaks my heart, especially with the world today, knowing things like this are still happening. Families being split up, walls being built. I’m no politics expert therefore I can not get into the ins and outs of it all, and I do not want to spread negativity so I shall comment no more, but at least I have been moved to hopefully help to make the world a better place for us all, remembering love is always the answer. One day we will live in a world where there is no divide, only love, respect, connection and joy. It will happen, it’s what this world deserves.
Despite what moved me about this section of the book, there was still so much to celebrate about Liz’s time in Indonesia. From the friendships, the relationship (ooh la la), the journey and the lessons. I learnt some incredible meditation techniques and a ton about Spirituality (see pages 263, 264, 265, 273, 274 and 275) through this part of Liz’s story and Ketut Liyer’s teachings, my favourite being the very, very easy form of meditation, that is to simply sit in silence and smile (see pages 241 and 242). Smile so all the good energy will come to you. Perfect. I’ve been practising this since.
There is so much love and joy throughout Liz’s journey in Indonesia, it brings myself as the reader joy too. I believe this is where Liz found enlightenment and bliss (or close enough to it, I wouldn’t like to make such a bold statement on behalf of another person without knowing for absolute certain), and I felt that enlightenment and bliss along with her. It was infectious. The story wrapped up so beautifully, it brings a tear to my eye. The most perfect, perfect ending to a perfect, perfect story and an incredible journey. Everything came together peacefully.
Eat, Pray, Love is an incredible, moving and insightful book filled with an abundance of important life lessons, so much love and so many teachings. There is so much to gain from reading Eat, Pray, Love, I do believe it will change your outlook on life (and make you want to travel, even more so than you may already do), I 1000% recommend. Though it did take me a while to read this book and there were times when I didn’t feel so inspired to pick it up and read, I am so grateful to have finished the story now and taken Liz’s journey with her for it has enriched my life and taught me so much. I will definitely be lending this book to my friends and family and it’s something I myself will probably read again too someday. I’m going to have to give this book a 5/5 stars purely because it is packed with so much enlightenment, it is a must read. I am so grateful to Elizabeth Gilbert for taking us along with her on her journey, and I am so excited to read her book which follows: ‘Committed’. Thank you Liz for writing such a masterpiece!
Have you read Eat, Pray, Love? Have you seen the film adaption? (I’ve done both now, read the book and seen the film), if not, is it something you’d like to read and/ or watch? What’s one book which you’ve found to have enriched your life and taught you so much? Be sure to let me know all your thoughts in the comments below.
*You can purchase Eat, Pray, Love through Waterstones, Amazon and of course I’m sure, many other bookshops and retailers. I just wanted to share some direct links with you in case you wanted to pick up a copy now.*
With an abundance of love, light and gratitude,
thank you all so much for reading,
lots of love,
and remember to, Eat, Pray, Love,