Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book review: Eat Pray Love - One woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 349
Price: Rs 350

"As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul, even one puff of it is bad for you." Of course, you know this, just like you know how "flexibility is as essential for divinity as is discipline," or that "happiness is a consequence of your own personal effort." There's not much journalist Elizabeth Gilbert’s autobiographical Eat Pray Love can tell you that you don't already know. But it does nudge you to take a second look, reach out for things you've only known, not felt and then seek new things you could learn.

In her thirties and well-settled in a large house with a husband who wants to start a family, Elizabeth realises that she doesn’t want any of it. After a bitter divorce and a ‘rebound fling’, she takes charge of her battered life and sets out to find what she has been missing all along. She takes a year’s break from work and divides the time equally between Italy, India and Indonesia. She dedicates four months in Italy to pleasure, eating pizzas, wolfing down scoops of gelati (ice-creams) and learning Italian. She then heads to her Guru’s ashram in a tiny village in India, where she scrubs temple floors, meditates and socialises with other broken expats who come to India in search of peace. It is in India that she learns the art of forgiveness. Healed, she makes her way to Bali to keep her part of promise she made to an old medicine man two years earlier. Gradually, the old man reveals to her a new path to peace, leaving her ready to love again.

It's not an easy journey for Elizabeth, to find her true self. She falters, falls, cheats, lies but also meditates, prays, works hard, makes and helps friends along her path of self-discovery. Funny, informative and novel-like, Eat Pray Love may be a divorced woman's quest for inner peace but appeals to anyone who wants to start all over again. The easiest way to do that is to move out and travel. Explore new places, meet new people and taste new foods. Seek pleasure. Keep negative thoughts and emotions away. Forgive those who have caused you pain. Ask for forgiveness in turn. And finally, find the god within you.

Many self-help and motivational books give you the same message. But Eat Pray Love works for you because it's not preachy. You identify with Elizabeth's pain, sorrow, misgivings, hatred, happiness, freedom and love. You pray for her, as she prays. You empathise with her guilt. You feel relieved when she forgives. And as she heals, so do you. Now, isn’t that a good reason for you to read this book? 

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