In the 10+ years since its publication, a lot has been said about this book. Millions have been inspired by it, and Time described it as "an engaging, intelligent, and highly entertaining memoir." I wanted to write a review of it anyway because after reading it over Christmas break I still think about it, and because it would be a great addition to a summer reading list.
The memoir follows Elizabeth Gilbert who, after an ugly divorce fraught with emotional and financial cost, sets out on a journey to rediscover her self under the influence of three different cultures that the book sections are divided into: Italy and pleasure, India and spirituality, Bali and balance.
Gilbert's voice is witty and thoughtful, self-deprecating and self-compassionate. Her writing is down-to-earth and humorous, and above all — honest. The book is packed with tidbits of knowledge and wisdom, from the words of spiritual gurus to how the Italian language was formed. Gilbert's passion for life and love that she fosters throughout her experiences and travels is contagious, and the people she encounters felt real and unique as the book in my hand. The first section of the book touches on what I feel is lacking in the always-busy, always-working American society — the ability to take time to relax and enjoy life's small joys, such as a simple plate of pasta. As I enjoy and practice yoga and meditation, the second section of Gilbert's experience in an Indian Ashram was interesting to me and holds spiritual wisdom and insight valuable to everyone regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof. As mentioned previously, in the third section Gilbert sought a balance between these aspects of life; this is important because a byproduct of modern American culture is the difficulty to find balance between activities and obligations. Although cheesy at times, this book provides one with an amazing vicarious experience of the struggle to recover self with poise, humor, and (of course) love.