A few Books on the Brain readers, including Danica, Gentle Reader, Tara, and others, some of whom left comments HERE and HERE and HERE, asked if I would post about the Eat, Pray, Love discussion at my book club meeting. We had an excellent meeting, with 8 of our 12 members attending. The food was great.. mini pizzas from Trader Joes, a big pasta salad, homemade calzones, wine and chocolate. Mmmmm.
We started off the discussion by asking what was each person’s favorite part of the book. Our hostess, who is relatively new to the group, said the cutest thing. Her favorite part was when the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, was at the ashram in India and talked about wanting to be The Quiet Girl In The Back Of The Room, because every time she leaves a book club meeting, she feels like she’s talked too much, and she wanted us all to know that she doesn’t think her opinions and comments are any more important than any of ours, and she wanted to apologize if anyone felt she went on and on too much, and she just really likes to talk, and she loves the book club, and and and.. finally her sister said, “Ok! We get it! You can stop talking now!” We all had a good laugh.
Everyone liked certain aspects of the book. We agreed that Gilbert is talented and that the book was well written. One member, who I know didn’t really care for the book, said good things about it before she went on her rant about “paying for Gilbert’s therapy by buying this book”. A couple of us were critical of the India section and the “fake God moment” when she declares she is one with God and actually IS God. We all thought there were a few coincidences that were probably mostly BS and just thrown in because she was writing a book.. like when she was praying about her nephew and his nightmares and learned later they had abruptly stopped at the same time.. or when she wrote a letter to God about finalizing her divorce, and then suddenly she gets the call that her husband finally signed the papers.
Many of us thought she could have filled us (the reader) in a bit more about why her divorce was so horrible.. to me it was hard to work up any real sympathy for her because she doesn’t say why it was so awful, so so so hard, really really hard (WHY?) Divorce sucks, but in the big scheme of things.. it’s not like having cancer or losing a child or whatever. We all thought she needed some perspective. If the worst thing that ever happens to you is something that really isn’t all that horrible, it’s still the worst thing ever TO YOU. But stop trying to convince me (without actually TELLING me) that it was SO BAD, so horrible and hard. On a funny side note, Liz Gilbert has now married her Brazilian lover Felipe, who she met in Bali, and her next book is about marriage. BWAAHHAAHAHAHAHA!
Anyway. Overall I’d say the book was liked more than disliked. I asked members to give me a “wrap up” of what they thought and got a few responses. Here they are:
From TD: EPL was a well-written, somewhat comical memoir of Gilbert’s travels and search for spiritualism and balance. As the book progressed, I could see that she changed from a self-absorbed needy woman to a more self-controlled, happier person.
I would rate it 3.5.
From DD: Rating: ***
In total, I did not hate or love the book. I could not relate to Gilbert’s depression, so I had little sympathy while reading about her divorce trauma. If all of her whining was removed from the book, I would’ve liked the book better. Gilbert is a good writer and has a fun way of describing her adventures in all three countries. I came away learning a little about Italian cuisine and language, Indian ashrams and meditation, and the culture of Bali – a plus. Some of her events were a little contrived and far-fetched, but I guess it was felt that they were needed to “spice up” the book.
From KD: 4*’s
Gilbert’s travels were very educational. EPL is a wonderful book to read for those who have an open mind about someone who has mental illness. Gilbert wants to get well (without drugs) and find her inner peace. A beautiful book!!!
From EL: I would give it 4 stars.
Elizabeth Gilbert is a witty writer and very easy to read. I enjoyed reading about her personal journey, as well as the cultures, geography of the places she visits. She was especially informative about meditation and the ashram in the India section. Readers will love the book if you can get past two things: 1) she is often whiney and self absorbed, especially about her failed relationship with David (bleh!), and 2) since she is upfront with the reader that the trip (and thus book) was conceived before she began her journey, the reader may often feel like some of the events that she experiences are fake and contrived. Otherwise, I really did love the book.
I enjoyed it although I was ready to leave India- it got a little long and I felt the author was so self-absorbed on and off throughout. I enjoyed Italy most of all- I like her writing style and she is very likable and fun.
From SA: I can’t say I loved or hated this book – my feelings about it fall somewhere in the middle. On one hand, like many working mothers, I had a bit of a problem relating to the author, her life, and the premise that she “needed” to spend one year away from the States (in order to heal herself and cure her depression). On the other hand, I did enjoy and appreciate her wit, her obvious intelligence, and her talent as a writer. While reading the book, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own life, dreams, disappointments, and future goals. I think that was a good side effect of this book, and it is not something I can say about most of our other book-club picks. So, I don’t regret reading it. But I’ll be careful about who I recommended it to in the future. 4 Stars
Filed under: book clubs, Book Reviews, books, Life, reading, Reading Groups Tagged: | bali, book club, book clubs, books, eat pray love, elizabeth gilbert, food, India, indonesia, italy, marriage, reading, reading group, Reading Groups, spirituality