“Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert

I can totally understand why “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert has garnered so much attention and a devoted following worldwide. I’m not put off by the cynical reviews, though reading the book, I’m less convinced by the film – which I saw first. I understand film and book as loosely paired, each bright exponents of their own art: the film as very colourful, the book as a very readable exploration of how spirituality can marry well with the best of western values.

“Eat Pray Love” is full of the kind of pithy wisdom that we might collect for ourselves and deploy over a life-time, taking our favourite nuggets with us on our holidays, or into our encounters with difficult people… And it is also an immensely readable story of how one brave woman learned to slough off the trials of her life to find something more rewarding.

If she can manage to do that, so can we. Speaking as one who has spent years in a spiritual quest to understand Why? and who now acknowledges increasingly that Why is not the point: it’s more useful to work out How… it is heartening to notice many of my own suspicions echoed in this volume. I nod, agree “Yes, of course!” and “Oh, so now I understand…” Which is what, for me, makes this book such a gem.

“Eat Pray Love” is well written, and grapples with seeming ease, with abstruse spiritual concepts that would leave many of us floundering. With a seeming effortlessness, Gilbert lays out to view her evidence for a kind, generous all-seeing deity who loves us totally, and would like us to be happy. To argue with that seems churlish.

Rather than write a glowing review and indicate that this book saved my life, I would rather you read it and collect from it what suits you, given where you are now, and where you are going. It’s the kind of tale that will resonate with each of its readers differently, so that will have to be my main recommendation: read it, because it might just be the book you’ve been looking for. If not, then working out the reasons why not, is useful to know.

If I have one quibble, it’s that Ms Gilbert – who has such an amazing array of language she could use – in her heated moments references disability as an insult. I wasn’t really expecting to see it written, so when I saw “spaz” it was a jolt, and to see “spastic” used as a form of abuse was like tasting metal in my mouth. Once, as Lady Bracknell might say, is unfortunate. Twice begins to look like carelessness.

Nevertheless, a book I will keep.

Thanks for reading.

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