Thursday, July 5, 2007

Eat Pray Love

In preparation for a very tedious train ride to Doylestown on Tuesday, I treated myself to a book I've been dying to read. Sometimes things just hit me. I read a one-sentence review, I like the cover, or I feel drawn to the author's name, and I have to buy the book. A lot of time I regret it, but sometimes I find a gem. Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love is amazing. I can't put it down. I'm slightly wishing I'd saved it for honeymoon reading, since I shouldn't allow myself to be distracted from wedding crafts, but I do thoroughly love having a good book going.

Gilbert (The Last American Man) grafts the structure of romantic fiction upon the inquiries of reporting in this sprawling yet methodical travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery. Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. First, pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights — the world's best pizza, free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners — Gilbert consumes la dolce vita as spiritual succor. 'I came to Italy pinched and thin,' she writes, but soon fills out in waist and soul. Then, prayer and ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise 'betwixt and between' realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a charged love affair. Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry — conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish with touching candor — as she details her exotic tableau with history, anecdote and impression." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)