Eat, Pray, Love
by Gilbert, Elizabeth
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This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali. By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls “Anne Lamott’s hip, yoga- practicing, footloose younger sister”) is poised to garner yet more adoring fans.
Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" satisfies on many levels. It is at once a humorous, witty, and a soul-bearingly honest narrative covering a vast geographical terrain as well as the spiritual geography of her heart and soul. It chronicles her escape from the trappings of twenty-first century suburban life through a painful divorce, her quest for joy, "something to marvel at" and her quest for a deeper connection with her soul, and finally a search for a way to balance her appetite for life with a sense of timeless connection to pure spirit. Her appetite is literally and figuratively restored in Rome, Italy, where she learns La Dolce Vita, the beautiful life, and Dolce far Niente, sweetly doing nothing but enjoying the present moments of wine, friendship, laughter and her new Italian tongue, tasting the words of Dante's Italian, sharing them with street vendors and a male friend with the unlikely name of Luca Spaghetti. Her next journey takes her to an Indian ashram, where she meets motely but spiritually saavy fellow pilgrims, and where her vow of silence is interrupted by the ashram management's request for her to be a sort of tour guide for incoming guests. She learns that she doesn't have to be a silent Yogi to be whole, only herself with all her beauty and flaws. Finally, she ends up in Indonesia, where a toothless but charming medicine man teaches her "all he knows" and how to "smile with your liver." That she finds romantic love in Indonesia seemed almost unbelievable, a romance novel ending. But this is a true story, and she is only able to find mature and lasting love after she learns to love and honor herself. Her theme might well be taken from a poem by Rumi, the 13th century Sufi poet:The Guest House, by RumiThis being human is a guest house.Every morning a new arrival.A joy, a depression, a meanness,some momentary awareness comesas an unexpected visitor.Welcome and entertain them all!Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,who violently sweep your houseempty of its furniture,still, treat each guest honorably.He may be clearing you outfor some new delight.The dark thought, the shame, the malice,meet them at the door laughing,and invite them in.Be grateful for whoever comes,because each has been sentas a guide from beyond. (The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)
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