Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review of Eat Pray Love

Most of my reading consists of medical textbooks or school assigned lessons. In addition to teaching pre hospital emergency medical providers at all license levels I am in the process of obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Adult Education. Pathophysiology or algebra chapters consume most of my reading time. When I recently had to fly across country to teach a class I was caught up on all work and school related reading so I took a few minutes to browse the bookstore. Julia Roberts’ picture on the cover of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gifford caught my eye. I paid my $20.00 and went to the boarding area to wait for my plane.

When I was a child, I loved to read. The summer of my fifth grade year I read every Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boys books in the respective series. I would curl up under a tree, read under the covers of my bed with a flashlight; wherever I could find peace and quiet, that’s where my book and I went. As an adult too busy for that luxury, the occasional book I get to read compares to a bottle of Dom Perignon.

I sat down and enjoyed the cover for a few minutes. I think Julia Roberts is stunning and the visual attractiveness of the cover was worthy of my appreciating the details of it. The granite bench, the delicate way she is holding the spoon to her mouth, the partial picture of the nun; all melded together for a striking cover. The feeling of Italy emanates from the face of the book as you gaze at the old granite building with the black cast iron door. As I had browsed the bookstore I had debated buying an e-reader, but as I sat there holding the weight of the book in my hand I was glad I had decided on the “real thing.” I opened the book and read the first page with the same anticipation I had waiting for Nancy Drew to solve her next mystery.

Elizabeth Gilbert writes a true story of her plunge into depression and how she travels across the continent in pursuit of “self-inquiry”. She travels to Italy in the pursuit of pleasure through eating, India where she pursues devotion, and Indonesia in the pursuit of balance. This book is not a fast read nor is it one for someone looking to fix their life in the way Elizabeth does. The reality is very few people could afford the luxury of taking a year off from life to chase peace of mind.

This book is however, for the mature reader who can appreciate her absolute despair and the small steps and large strides she takes to make herself happy. She holds nothing back describing her unadulterated hopelessness and the drastic steps she takes trying to hold herself together and rebuild her life. This is not a book that should be read in one sitting. The reader needs a chance to absorb the book in small pieces and grasp the small details she is so good at making come alive.

I opened this book with anticipation and closed it with satisfaction. If you have a week where you can read a few chapters at a time, this is the perfect book to make you reflect on your own life and inspire a little awe and jealousy at how one woman had the courage to fix hers.


  1. Getting a jump on me, eh? I haven't even finished my lecture and review for next week and you're all done already! I'm going to hold off on commenting until I can say I too have a review....

  2. Or is this week 12--the book intro?

  3. This is just a placeholder comment to let you know I haven't forgotten. I'm in a funny state of mind--I've written my intro and am almost done my review (of a movie) but the clear line between introduction and review that I hoped to draw in 262 is not that clear to me at this point, and this nice piece of yours doesn't help.

    Review or introduction? Well, for sure, it's going to be one or the other--and it is, indeed, nice--, but I'm going to sleep on it and come back to this again tomorrow with better comments.

  4. I understand, it felt like an intro as I was writing it, but reads a little like a review. I wait patiently for your input as to where this should fall.

  5. The difference I am clinging to this morning is that a review can slag something, whereas it would be pretty damned strange to be browsing in the ariport bookstore and come on an intro that said, 'This book you hold is not much good. Pass on, stranger.'

    That said, I realize that in my review of 'Slim', surely an overall appreciation, I both made a bit of fun of the book and warn readers off if they weren't willing to read about x-braces. Perhaps my intro was more of a review!

    And to complicate matters even more, I sometimes read reviews that are footnoted this way; "A slightly longer version of this essay will be included as an introduction to an edition of X to be published this spring by Hoganroad Press."

    So, what's a little confusion between friends? ALL that said, enough with teacherly doubts about genre and on to your essay.

    I really enjoyed reading this. I pictured the airport book store, I pictured the little girl in the little fishing village reading Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew by flashlight, and I pictured the girl all grown up sitting in an airport taking pleasure in the feel and sight of the book in her lap.

    You move very smoothly into the more general comments, which are all pertinent and provocative.

    This line was particularly neat: "I opened this book with anticipation and closed it with satisfaction. " Pretty much the way I felt about your review/intro.

  6. Thank you. After 3 semesters I still get the same tingle when I get the green light on an assignment. I have to say, my classes where I have to write (yours, Lesley Gillis's, and Ed Raymaker's) are the ones I am most impatient about receiving feedback. An A on an algebra or an A & P exam don't give me nearly the same smile as a satisfactory review from one of the three of you.