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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

3.8 3378
by Elizabeth Gilbert

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The celebrated author of The Last American Man creates an irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure and spiritual devotion.

By the time she turned thirty, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern, educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house in the country, a successful career. But


The celebrated author of The Last American Man creates an irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure and spiritual devotion.

By the time she turned thirty, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern, educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house in the country, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love and the complete eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.

To recover from all of this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, left her loved ones behind and undertook a year-long journey around the world, all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the chronicle of that year. Gilbert's aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature, set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Italy, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, where, with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise Texan, she embarked on four months of austere spiritual exploration. Finally, in Indonesia, she sought her ultimate goal: balance—namely, how to somehow build a life of equilibrium between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. Looking for these answers on the island of Bali, she became the pupil of an elderly, ninth-generation medicine man and also fell in love in the very best way—unexpectedly.

A memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment. It is also about the adventures that can transpire when a woman stops trying to live in imitation of society's ideals. This is a story certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.

Editorial Reviews

Oddly but aptly titled, Eat, Pray, Love is an experience to be savored: This spiritual memoir brims with humor, grace, and scorching honesty. After a messy divorce and other personal missteps, Elizabeth Gilbert confronts the "twin goons" of depression and loneliness by traveling to three countries that she intuited had something she was seeking. First, in Italy, she seeks to master the art of pleasure by indulging her senses. Then, in an Indian ashram, she learns the rigors and liberation of mind-exalting hours of meditation. Her final destination is Bali, where she achieves a precarious, yet precious equilibrium. Gilbert's original voice and unforced wit lend an unpretentious air to her expansive spiritual journey.
Grace Lichtenstein
The only thing wrong with this readable, funny memoir of a magazine writer's yearlong travels across the world in search of pleasure and balance is that it seems so much like a Jennifer Aniston movie.
— The Washington Post
The New Yorker
At the age of thirty-one, Gilbert moved with her husband to the suburbs of New York and began trying to get pregnant, only to realize that she wanted neither a child nor a husband. Three years later, after a protracted divorce, she embarked on a yearlong trip of recovery, with three main stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gustatory, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for “balancing.” These destinations are all on the beaten track, but Gilbert’s exuberance and her self-deprecating humor enliven the proceedings: recalling the first time she attempted to speak directly to God, she says, “It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, ‘I’ve always been a big fan of your work.’ ”
Publishers Weekly
Gilbert (The Last American Man) grafts the structure of romantic fiction upon the inquiries of reporting in this sprawling yet methodical travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery. Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence. First, pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights-the world's best pizza, free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners-Gilbert consumes la dolce vita as spiritual succor. "I came to Italy pinched and thin," she writes, but soon fills out in waist and soul. Then, prayer and ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise "betwixt and between" realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a charged love affair. Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry-conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish with touching candor-as she details her exotic tableau with history, anecdote and impression. (On sale Feb. 20) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
An interest in the human condition is the common thread that ties together Gilbert's diverse body of work, ranging from a collection of short stories (Pilgrim) to a novel discussing the outdoor lifestyle of Eustace Conway (The Last American Man). In her new work, she continues her exploration of the human psyche through a very personal journey of self-discovery in three countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. In Italy, her first escape, she devours the food and the melodic language with equal gusto. In India, she decamps to an ashram to learn the intense discipline prayer and spiritual pilgrimage require, in the process revealing the depths to be found in reflection, meditation, and historical teachings. In Indonesia, she generates strong friendships and gains insight into homeopathic medicines, healing, and the complexities of different cultures. Throughout, she candidly shares her observations and emotions as she grows from a woman shattered, lost, and confused to one rejuvenated, confident, and in love. A probing, thoughtful title with a free and easy style, this work seamlessly blends history and travel for a very enjoyable read. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/05.]-Jo-Anne Mary Benson, Osgoode, Ont. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An unsuccessful attempt at a memoir from novelist and journalist Gilbert (The Last American Man, 2002, etc.). While weeping one night on the bathroom floor because her marriage was falling apart, the author had a profound spiritual experience, crying out to and hearing an answer of sorts from God. Eventually, Gilbert left her husband, threw herself headlong into an intense affair, then lapsed into as intense a depression when the affair ended. After all that drama, we get to the heart of this book, a year of travel during which the author was determined to discover peace and pleasure. In Rome, she practiced Italian and ate scrumptious food. Realizing that she needed to work on her "boundary issues," she determined to forego the pleasure of sex with Italian men. In India, she studied at the ashram of her spiritual guru (to whom she had been introduced by the ex-lover), practiced yoga and learned that in addition to those pesky difficulties with boundaries, she also had "control issues." Finally she headed to Bali, where she became the disciple of a medicine man, befriended a single mother and fell in love with another expat. Quirky supporting characters pop up here and there, speaking a combination of wisdom and cliche. At the ashram, for example, she meets a Texan who offers such improbable aphorisms as, "You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be." Gilbert's divorce and subsequent depression, which she summarizes in about 35 pages, are in fact more interesting than her year of travel. The author's writing is prosaic, sometimes embarrassingly so: "I'm putting this happiness in a bank somewhere, not merely FDIC protected but guarded by my four spiritbrothers."Lacks the sparkle of her fiction.
From the Publisher
"If a more wonderful writer than Gilbert is currently in print, I haven't found him or her... Gilbert's prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit, and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible, and makes the reader only too glad to join the posse of friends and devotees who have the pleasure of listening in." —Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Book Review

"An engaging, intelligent, and highly entertaining memoir... [Her] account of her time in India is beautiful and honest and free of patchouli-scented obscurities." —Lev Grossman, Time

"A meditation on love in many forms... Gilbert's wry, unfettered account of her extraordinary journey makes even the most cynical reader dare to dream of someday finding God deep within a meditation cave in India, or perhaps over a transcendent slice of pizza." —Los Angeles Times

"Gilbert's memoir reads like the journal of your most insightful, funny friend as she describes encounters with healers, ex-junkies, and (yes!) kind, handsome men." —Glamour 

"Readable [and] funny... By the time she and her lover sailed into a Bali sunset, Gilbert had won me over. She's a gutsy gal, this Liz, flaunting her psychic wounds and her search for faith in a pop-culture world." —The Washington Post

"This insightful, funny account of her travels reads like a mix of Susan Orlean and Frances Mayes... Gilbert's journey is well worth taking." —Entertainment Weekly ("A" rating)

"Be advised that the supremely entertaining Eat Pray Love—a mid-thirties memoir by the endlessly talented Elizabeth Gilbert—is not just for the ladies, fellas." —GQ

"Compulsively readable... Think Carrie Bradshaw cut loose from her weekly column, her beloved New York City, and her trio of friends, riffing her way across the globe on an assortment of subjects ranging from the 'hands-down most amazing' Sicilian pasta she's ever tasted to her reason for buying sexy lingerie to our collective, species-driven instinct for being on the planet." —Elle

"Gilbert's exuberance and her self-deprecating humor enliven the proceedings: recalling the first time she attempted to speak directly to God, she says, 'It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, "I've always been a big fan of your work." ' " —The New Yorker

"An intriguing and substantive journey recounted with verve, humor, and insight. Others have preceded Gilbert in writing this sort of memoir, but few indeed have done it better." —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"In this engrossing and captivating travel memoir, journalist Liz Gilbert globe-trots for a year to Italy, India, and Indonesia... Lucky for us, the lessons she learns are entirely importable." —Marie Claire

"Gilbert's writing is chatty and deep, confident and self-deprecating... that makes her work engaging and accessible." —San Francisco Chronicle

"As a friend—and as a writer—Gilbert is innocently trusting, generous, loving, and expressive." —The Boston Globe 

"Gilbert is an irresistible narrator—funny, self-deprecating, fiercely intelligent... [She's] such a sincere seeker... [It's] impossible not to applaud her breakthrough." —Salon.com

"An intimate account of a spiritual journey. But it's also a zippy travelogue with rich, likeable characters...You will laugh, cry, and love with a more open heart." —Rocky Mountain News

"Gilbert is a witty, funny, and likeable pilgrim on a hero's journey." —The Oregonian

"Run-of-the-mill envy doesn't begin to describe what many readers must feel when devouring Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

"A captivating storyteller with a gift for enlivening metaphors, Gilbert is Anne Lamott's hip, yoga-practicing, footloose younger sister, and readers will laugh and cry as she recounts her nervy and outlandish experiences and profiles the extraordinary people she meets... [Her] sensuous and audacious spiritual journey is as deeply pleasurable as it is enlightening." -Booklist (starred review)

"Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry—conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish with touching candor—as she details her exotic tableau with history, anecdote, and impression." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Gilbert takes us on a pilgrimage, with the humor, insight, and charm that only come with honest self-revelation and good writing." —Jack Kornfield, The Omega Institute

"Spilling out of this funny (and profound) circus car of a book are dozens of mesmerizing characters; people you'll envy Liz Gilbert for finding, valuing, loving, and, I couldn't help noticing, joining for irresistible meals. I've never read an adventure quite like this one, where a writer packs up her entire life and takes it on the road." —Alan Richman

"This is a wonderful book, brilliant and personal, rich in spiritual insight... Gilbert is everything you would love in a tour guide of magical places she has traveled to both deep inside and across the oceans: she's wise, jaunty, human, ethereal, hilarious, heartbreaking, and, God, does she pay great attention to the things that really matter." —Anne Lamott

Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Thorndike Biography Series
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Eat, Pray, Love

By Elizabeth Gilbert

Viking Adult

ISBN: 0-670-03471-1

Chapter One

I wish Giovanni would kiss me.

Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea. To begin with, Giovanni is ten years younger than I am, and-like most Italian guys in their twenties-he still lives with his mother. These facts alone make him an unlikely romantic partner for me, given that I am a professional American woman in my mid-thirties, who has just come through a failed marriage and a devastating, interminable divorce, followed immediately by a passionate love affair that ended in sickening heartbreak. This loss upon loss has left me feeling sad and brittle and about seven thousand years old. Purely as a matter of principle I wouldn't inflict my sorry, busted-up old self on the lovely, unsullied Giovanni. Not to mention that I have finally arrived at that age where a woman starts to question whether the wisest way to get over the loss of one beautiful brown-eyed young man is indeed to promptly invite another one into her bed. This is why I have been alone for many months now. This is why, in fact, I have decided to spend this entire year in celibacy.

To which the savvy observer might inquire: "Then why did you come to Italy?"

To which I can only reply-especially when looking across the table at handsome Giovanni-"Excellent question."

Giovanni is my Tandem Exchange Partner. That sounds like an innuendo, but unfortunately it's not. All it really means is that we meeta few evenings a week here in Rome to practice each other's languages. We speak first in Italian, and he is patient with me; then we speak in English, and I am patient with him. I discovered Giovanni a few weeks after I'd arrived in Rome, thanks to that big Internet cafe at the Piazza Barbarini, across the street from that fountain with the sculpture of that sexy merman blowing into his conch shell. He (Giovanni, that is-not the merman) had posted a flier on the bulletin board explaining that a native Italian speaker was seeking a native English speaker for conversational language practice. Right beside his appeal was another flier with the same request, word-for-word identical in every way, right down to the typeface. The only difference was the contact information. One flier listed an e-mail address for somebody named Giovanni; the other introduced somebody named Dario. But even the home phone number was the same.

Using my keen intuitive powers, I e-mailed both men at the same time, asking in Italian, "Are you perhaps brothers?"

It was Giovanni who wrote back this very provocativo message: "Even better. Twins!"

Yes-much better. Tall, dark and handsome identical twenty-five-year-old twins, as it turned out, with those giant brown liquid-center Italian eyes that just unstitch me. After meeting the boys in person, I began to wonder if perhaps I should adjust my rule somewhat about remaining celibate this year. For instance, perhaps I could remain totally celibate except for keeping a pair of handsome twenty-five-year-old Italian twin brothers as lovers. Which was slightly reminiscent of a friend of mine who is vegetarian except for bacon, but nonetheless ... I was already composing my letter to Penthouse:

In the flickering, candlelit shadows of the Roman cafe, it was impossible to tell whose hands were caress-But, no.

No and no.

I chopped the fantasy off in mid-word. This was not my moment to be seeking romance and (as day follows night) to further complicate my already knotty life. This was my moment to look for the kind of healing and peace that can only come from solitude.

Anyway, by now, by the middle of November, the shy, studious Giovanni and I have become dear buddies. As for Dario-the more razzle-dazzle swinger brother of the two-I have introduced him to my adorable little Swedish friend Sofie, and how they've been sharing their evenings in Rome is another kind of Tandem Exchange altogether. But Giovanni and I, we only talk. Well, we eat and we talk. We have been eating and talking for many pleasant weeks now, sharing pizzas and gentle grammatical corrections, and tonight has been no exception. A lovely evening of new idioms and fresh mozzarella.

Now it is midnight and foggy, and Giovanni is walking me home to my apartment through these back streets of Rome, which meander organically around the ancient buildings like bayou streams snaking around shadowy clumps of cypress groves. Now we are at my door. We face each other. He gives me a warm hug. This is an improvement; for the first few weeks, he would only shake my hand. I think if I were to stay in Italy for another three years, he might actually get up the juice to kiss me. On the other hand, he might just kiss me right now, tonight, right here by my door ... there's still a chance ... I mean we're pressed up against each other's bodies beneath this moonlight ... and of course it would be a terrible mistake ... but it's still such a wonderful possibility that he might actually do it right now ... that he might just bend down ... and ... and ... Nope.

He separates himself from the embrace.

"Good night, my dear Liz," he says.

"Buona notte, caro mio," I reply.

I walk up the stairs to my fourth-floor apartment, all alone. I let myself into my tiny little studio, all alone. I shut the door behind me. Another solitary bedtime in Rome. Another long night's sleep ahead of me, with nobody and nothing in my bed except a pile of Italian phrasebooks and dictionaries.

I am alone, I am all alone, I am completely alone.

Grasping this reality, I let go of my bag, drop to my knees and press my forehead against the floor. There, I offer up to the universe a fervent prayer of thanks.

First in English.

Then in Italian.

And then-just to get the point across-in Sanskrit.

Chapter Two

And since I am already down there in supplication on the floor, let me hold that position as I reach back in time three years earlier to the moment when this entire story began-a moment which also found me in this exact same posture: on my knees, on a floor, praying.

Everything else about the three-years-ago scene was different, though. That time, I was not in Rome but in the upstairs bathroom of the big house in the suburbs of New York which I'd recently purchased with my husband. It was a cold November, around three o'clock in the morning. My husband was sleeping in our bed. I was hiding in the bathroom for something like the forty-seventh consecutive night, and-just as during all those nights before-I was sobbing. Sobbing so hard, in fact, that a great lake of tears and snot was spreading before me on the bathroom tiles, a veritable Lake Inferior (if you will) of all my shame and fear and confusion and grief.

I don't want to be married anymore.

I was trying so hard not to know this, but the truth kept insisting itself to me.

I don't want to be married anymore. I don't want to live in this big house. I don't want to have a baby.

But I was supposed to want to have a baby. I was thirty-one years old. My husband and I-who had been together for eight years, married for six-had built our entire life around the common expectation that, after passing the doddering old age of thirty, I would want to settle down and have children. By then, we mutually anticipated, I would have grown weary of traveling and would be happy to live in a big, busy household full of children and homemade quilts, with a garden in the backyard and a cozy stew bubbling on the stovetop. (The fact that this was a fairly accurate portrait of my own mother is a quick indicator of how difficult it once was for me to tell the difference between myself and the powerful woman who had raised me.) But I didn't-as I was appalled to be finding out-want any of these things. Instead, as my twenties had come to a close, that deadline of THIRTY had loomed over me like a death sentence, and I discovered that I did not want to be pregnant. I kept waiting to want to have a baby, but it didn't happen. And I know what it feels like to want something, believe me. I well know what desire feels like. But it wasn't there. Moreover, I couldn't stop thinking about what my sister had said to me once, as she was breast-feeding her firstborn: "Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit."

How could I turn back now, though? Everything was in place. This was supposed to be the year. In fact, we'd been trying to get pregnant for a few months already. But nothing had happened (aside from the fact that-in an almost sarcastic mockery of pregnancy-I was experiencing psychosomatic morning sickness, nervously throwing up my breakfast every day). And every month when I got my period I would find myself whispering furtively in the bathroom: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me one more month to live ... I'd been attempting to convince myself that this was normal. All women must feel this way when they're trying to get pregnant, I'd decided. ("Ambivalent" was the word I used, avoiding the much more accurate description: "utterly consumed with dread".) I was trying to convince myself that my feelings were customary, despite all evidence to the contrary-such as the acquaintance I'd run into last week who'd just discovered that she was pregnant for the first time, after spending two years and a king's ransom in fertility treatments. She was ecstatic. She had wanted to be a mother forever, she told me. She admitted she'd been secretly buying baby clothes for years and hiding them under the bed, where her husband wouldn't find them. I saw the joy in her face and I recognized it. This was the exact joy my own face had radiated last spring, the day I discovered that the magazine I worked for was going to send me on assignment to New Zealand, to write an article about the search for giant squid. And I thought, "Until I can feel as ecstatic about having a baby as I felt about going to New Zealand to search for a giant squid, I cannot have a baby"

I don't want to be married anymore.

In daylight hours, I refused that thought, but at night it would consume me. What a catastrophe. How could I be such a criminal jerk as to proceed this deep into a marriage, only to leave it? We'd only just bought this house a year ago. Hadn't I wanted this nice house? Hadn't I loved it? So why was I haunting its halls every night now, howling like Medea? Wasn't I proud of all we'd accumulated-the prestigious home in the Hudson Valley, the apartment in Manhattan, the eight phone lines, the friends and the picnics and the parties, the weekends spent roaming the aisles of some box-shaped superstore of our choice, buying ever more appliances on credit? I had actively participated in every moment of the creation of this life-so why did I feel like none of it resembled me? Why did I feel so overwhelmed with duty, tired of being the primary breadwinner and the housekeeper and the social coordinator and the dog-walker and the wife and the soon-to-be mother, and-somewhere in my stolen moments-a writer ...?

I don't want to be married anymore.

My husband was sleeping in the other room, in our bed. I equal parts loved him and could not stand him. I couldn't wake him to share in my distress-what would be the point? He'd already been watching me fall apart for months now, watching me behave like a madwoman (we both agreed on that word), and I only exhausted him. We both knew there was something wrong with me, and he'd been losing patience with it. We'd been fighting and crying, and we were weary in that way that only a couple whose marriage is collapsing can be weary. We had the eyes of refugees.

The many reasons I didn't want to be this man's wife anymore are too personal and too sad to share here. Much of it had to do with my problems, but a good portion of our troubles were related to his issues, as well. That's only natural; there are always two figures in a marriage, after all-two votes, two opinions, two conflicting sets of decisions, desires and limitations. But I don't think it's appropriate for me to discuss his issues in my book. Nor would I ask anyone to believe that I am capable of reporting an unbiased version of our story, and therefore the chronicle of our marriage's failure will remain untold here. I also will not discuss here all the reasons why I did still want to be his wife, or all his wonderfulness, or why I loved him and why I had married him and why I was unable to imagine life without him. I won't open any of that. Let it be sufficient to say that, on this night, he was still my lighthouse and my albatross in equal measure. The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn't want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland.

This part of my story is not a happy one, I know. But I share it here because something was about to occur on that bathroom floor that would change forever the progression of my life-almost like one of those crazy astronomical super-events when a planet flips over in outer space for no reason whatsoever, and its molten core shifts, relocating its poles and altering its shape radically, such that the whole mass of the planet suddenly becomes oblong instead of spherical. Something like that.

What happened was that I started to pray.

You know-like, to God.

Chapter Three

Now, this was a first for me. And since this is the first time I have introduced that loaded word-GOD-into my book, and since this is a word which will appear many times again throughout these pages, it seems only fair that I pause here for a moment to explain exactly what I mean when I say that word, just so people can decide right away how offended they need to get.

Saving for later the argument about whether God exists at all (no-here's a better idea: let's skip that argument completely), let me first explain why I use the word God, when I could just as easily use the words Jehovah, Allah, Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu or Zeus. Alternatively, I could call God "That", which is how the ancient Sanskrit scriptures say it, and which I think comes close to the all-inclusive and unspeakable entity I have sometimes experienced. But that "That" feels impersonal to me-a thing, not a being-and I myself cannot pray to a That. I need a proper name, in order to fully sense a personal attendance. For this same reason, when I pray, I do not address my prayers to The Universe, The Great Void, The Force, The Supreme Self, The Whole, The Creator, The Light, The Higher Power, or even the most poetic manifestation of God's name, taken, I believe, from the Gnostic gospels: "The Shadow of the Turning".

I have nothing against any of these terms. I feel they are all equal because they are all equally adequate and inadequate descriptions of the indescribable. But we each do need a functional name for this indescribability, and "God" is the name that feels the most warm to me, so that's what I use. I should also confess that I generally refer to God as "Him", which doesn't bother me because, to my mind, it's just a convenient personalizing pronoun, not a precise anatomical description or a cause for revolution. Of course, I don't mind if people call God "Her", and I understand the urge to do so. Again-to me, these are both equal terms, equally adequate and inadequate. Though I do think the capitalization of either pronoun is a nice touch, a small politeness in the presence of the divine.

Culturally, though not theologically, I'm a Christian. I was born a Protestant of the white Anglo-Saxon persuasion. And while I do love that great teacher of peace who was called Jesus, and while I do reserve the right to ask myself in certain trying situations what indeed He would do, I can't swallow that one fixed rule of Christianity insisting that Christ is the only path to God. Strictly speaking, then, I cannot call myself a Christian. Most of the Christians I know accept my feelings on this with grace and open-mindedness. Then again, most of the Christians I know don't speak very strictly. To those who do speak (and think) strictly, all I can do here is offer my regrets for any hurt feelings and now excuse myself from their business.

Traditionally, I have responded to the transcendent mystics of all religions. I have always responded with breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abides very close to us indeed-much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts. I respond with gratitude to anyone who has ever voyaged to the center of that heart, and who has then returned to the world with a report for the rest of us that God is an experience of supreme love. In every religious tradition on earth, there have always been mystical saints and transcendents who report exactly this experience. Unfortunately many of them have ended up arrested and killed. Still, I think very highly of them.


Excerpted from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
This is a wonderful book, brilliant and personal, rich in spiritual insight.—Anne Lamott

Gilbert’s prose is fueled by a mix of intelligence, wit and colloquial exuberance that is close to irresistible.—The New York Times Book Review

An engaging, intelligent, and highly entertaining memoir.—Time

A meditation on love in its many forms—love of food, language, humanity, God, and most meaningful for Gilbert, love of self.—Los Angeles Times

This insightful, funny account of her travels reads like a mix of Susan Orlean and Frances Mayes.—Entertainment Weekly

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, Big Magic, and several other internationally bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction. She began her career writing for Harper's Bazaar, Spin, The New York Times Magazine and GQ, and was a three-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The follow-up memoir Committed became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a Best Book of 2013 by The New York Times, O Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker. Gilbert’s short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Story, One Story, and the Paris Review.

Brief Biography

Hudson Valley, New York
Date of Birth:
July 18, 1969
Place of Birth:
Waterbury, Connecticut
BA, New York University, 1991 (Political Science)

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Eat, Pray, Love 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3378 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the most irritating book I have come across in quite some time. I honestly fail to understand what all the fuss is about. The character is rich, self-absorbed, and narcissistic. Yeah she was suffering, my heart bleeds for someone who has the money to traipse all over the world to find herself finally lighting in paradise where she meets a rich handsome man. Give me a break, and take a reality check. It says much for our culture that the movie should be such a success, and that the book is a best seller. Honestly, the writing is not that great and the character .well what can I say? More New Age dribble and easy answers except that in this case she has the financial wherewithal to travel the world to find herself. Give us all a break.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend recomended this book to me after I had gone through divorce and then been diagnosed with cancer thinking I would find some wisdom within these pages. However, what I found was an incredibly narcissistic writer/character. I kept waiting for her to suddenly stop in the middle of it all and just declare how self absorbed she is and then begin a real and truly honest self examination that would impart some valuable wisdom. Instead, she uses cliche riddled writing to avoid all of the hard subjects and not really be honest with the reader. I can very much relate to her feelings of anxiety and stress as the result of her divorce, but she spends only a few pages on this and avoids providing the reader with any kind of an honest and real examination as to why her relationship failed, what she learned from it or what love means to her. After reading more about her as a writer she seems like a very talented and intellectually curious person, but none of that comes through in this book. All that the reader sees is someone who is very lucky, but doesn't really seem to appreciate it. When she writes that she was not saved by her prince -- surprise, surprise she meets a good looking, intelligent man at the end -- but that she saved herself, I had to ask, 'From what?' It certainly wasn't extraordinary narcisism. In the end, all I learned is that the author is a really lucky person.
EmilySwallows More than 1 year ago
As a English professor at a university in San Diego, many of my students complain that I don't teach many "happy" books. A few of them recommended this book to me. And I'm glad they did...this is a troubling book. The most troubling thing about this vapid text isn't the fact that Gilbert is an annoying person; no, most troubling is the fact that so many people here are identifying with the narrator's "search." Really? You identify with an upitty, wealthy, New England divorcee who got paid to travel and "find" herself? From the faux-philosophical ruminations on "God," to the juvenile talk of Italian men ("I like kissing"--no joke--she really got paid to write that), Gilbert attempts to convince you that she's intellectual, spiritual, and--somehow--had a tough life. Gilbert tells us in the first chapter that she's not going to go into why her marriage broke apart (though she admits that much of it was her fault), but then details numerous faults with her husband (his biggest fault? He wanted her to have--gasp!--children!). The disingenuousness of Gilbert knows no limits! She tells us early on that she "got rid of all her possessions." How noble, right? Well, not really, she just put them into storage. How serendipitous! At all times, Gilbert's vapid self-centered "wanderer" takes center stage. Gilbert takes an entire sentence(!) to walk through a Roman neighborhood used as a Jewish Ghetto in WWII, and promptly discards that invitation to measure her own struggles against true adversity in favor of saying how she likes to visit the Pantheon. If you'd like to read a sincere look at personal struggle, please read Jhumpa Lahiri's "Unaccustomed Earth" or Louise Errich's "Plague of Doves."
Cherie-Renfrow-Starry More than 1 year ago
Dang, I was expecting so much more from this book! I wanted to give the book NO STARS in this review, but the software wouldn't allow it. I have to settle for 1 STAR, but even that's too many. It seems that people either really, really LIKE THIS BOOK or that people really, really DISLIKE THIS BOOK. Count me in the latter category. But, I really used to like Elizabeth Gilbert's work. What happened...? "What a totally self-centered person," I thought as I struggled through the first half of the book. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY tried to LIKE this book because I knew in the first 20 pages I would NEVER LOVE IT. I was expecting Ms. Gilbert to write more about cultures. I was wrong... It's all about ME...ME...ME rather than about cultural acceptance. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could just pick up and leave friends and family and other responsibilities to travel the world and eat, have sex, eat some more, have sex some more, and--oh yes--investigate and ponder why God (or some intelligent being, if you like) made ME so special?! Many of my friends liked this book and said it spoke to them. Now, I have very wonderful and intelligent friends, but I can't seem to find or relate to the concepts they describe as being life-altering or life-clarifying. Perhaps it's just ME. Oh, no--I seem to have caught the ME-SYNDROME (officially known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder)that I so clearly despised in this book! I wouldn't recommend this book to my clients as a therapeutic approach or aid to their mid-life crisis angst. Instead, I'd encourage each of them to not waste money on this book; save up for a real cruise/trip with real people... ...and I can't remember the last time I used the word "really" as often as I did in this review or as many upper-case letters or exclamation points to show how I felt about a book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cherie Renfrow Starry Private Practice Counselor/Therapist
TaylorVaughn More than 1 year ago
I really relate to this character, because I also went through a terrible divorce at a young age, and I really felt her pain. This is the deal---she completely planned this book before she even left on the trip, which is why she got a huge advance....and in that way, I feel duped as a reader. I want to believe it is a true journey. I bet she forgot everything she learned at the Ashram as soon as she left. I did not believe that truly transformed her. However, I did love (!) the detail about Rome, since I also lived there in college, and I think she nailed it. I could have guessed she would end up with a man in the end. It is a good book for our generation, but I would caution people not to drink the Kool-Aid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This self-indulgent whine-fest is not worthy of your valuable reading time. The author wisely chooses to first take the reader to Italy, where no one is boring and nothing seems bad! The next two sections of this travelogue are just - pretentious meanderings. The writer has given us no reasons to care about her troubles or her actions or anything else about her. Being a confused, divorced female does not make one a good writer!
LisaE-1111 More than 1 year ago
I never wanted Liz's story to end! It made me want to experience each step of her journey and find myself. She writes with such honesty that the reader finds herself laughing out loud and at other times crying. A must-read for all women and a beautiful gift for all best friends.
Jennifer-Lamas More than 1 year ago
Has anyone ever asked themselves, "What am I doing with my life"? Of course you have. Everyone has. Elizabeth Gilbert took the time to make a book about literally getting out. Getting away from her friends, her family, her comfort zone in her hometown. She travels to three different countries to learn about the culture and eventually finds self fulfillment. This book is encouraging to those of us who refuse to settle for the norm. It helps motivate us to take life and live it to the fullest. She does just that in this book about love and finding ones self. I highly recommend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I work in a bookstore & I am a huge fan of Oprah. So, I was very excited to read this book after hearing so many customer's recommned it & after seeing the author on Oprah. Sadly, it was the biggest disappointment! I agree with the other reviewers...all she did was complain and feel bad for herself over everything!! She had no life experiences that were that bad...she needed this 'journey' because she didn't want to be married anymore? Please...give me a break! Who wouldn't want to take a year off from work & your problems and travel? Unless you are filthy stinking rich you will not relate to this book. Do not waste your time.
meganmoo More than 1 year ago
She ate a lot and did some yoga. How on earth are they making a movie out of all that? I think this book MIGHT be good for someone going through a divorce, but personally, I wanted to pull eyelashes out one by one while reading this. I eat a lot, too. Maybe I should write about that. Who knows, maybe that will be turned into a movie too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've never been so disappointed and angered by a book. I thought it would have been about a women's journey into finding herself. Instead I'm reading about a neurotic women who commits adultry, uses people and then feels its necessary to promote her political views. I couldn't get past "Italy", which should have been all about pain, suffering and starting to gain control of her life. Instead, she demonstrates how selfish and uncaring she is about her friends and past relationships.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so disappointed after the first few chapters that I actually returned the book the next day. I found the author sadly and annoyingly self absorbed. But maybe I'm just one of those lucky women. Lets see I'm .......divorced(ex is an alcoholic), broke(putting two kids through college), overweight(even though I walk two miles every morning), sexless(seven years and counting), tired(work two jobs to pay the bills) oh and guess what......I'M HAPPY!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a frustrating read! It is absolutely amazing to me that this woman is making tons of money on this novel on her narcissism. I don't believe half of what she writes - I believe she wrote it all to have a paid vacation. Appauling!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I loved the first few chapters regarding her trip to Italy, and the descriptions of the food, etc., when she proceeded to India and Indonesia and got engulfed in meditation, she completely lost me. I found myself skipping those parts and hoping to find the good, to no avail. It was painfully boring and probably because I am not able to get all the hype about meditation. We actually took it off our book club list for fear we would lose the rest of the group.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Oprah had hyped this up so much I decided to read it. That was a mistake. I finished it, but kept waiting for it to get good. It never did. I have a real problem with praising a woman who walked out on her marriage for her own selfish purposes. We have a high enough divorce rate without someone glorifying her divorce and 'journey' like this book does. I love to read, but this was the most boring book I've read in a very long time.
Dreamer_Gal More than 1 year ago
Honestly, I read about 30 pages and I couldn't go on. It started off boring and just didn't pick up for me. All the talk about eating and eating only made me hungry! It was missing excitement....at least that's what I'd be working on if I was in the main character's shoes. I'm hoping the movie will bring that for me.
Sagers More than 1 year ago
When I began reading this book I was living abroad in Amman, Jordan. So I could very much identify with the traveling aspects of the book as well as the spiritual journey. I was not planning to go on a spiritual journay while in Jordan but while living there with inescapable sounds of call to prayer from the five mosques within a one mile radius four times a day it seems almost inevitable that you would think about your spirituality. I had just begun meditating again and wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with my life after I returned to the US. I was a nanny for my brother's new baby boy and I had a lot of time on my hands to contemplate my life. When I found this book it was almost as if the planets had aligned at the perfect moment to send me the perfect gift for exactly what I was going through. Elizabeth Gilbert's journey not only helped to get my own journey in motion but helped along the way. It reawakened in me the need to tap into my own spirituality, something I too had been lacking for quite a few years. I think Gilbert's personal, ethnographic style of writing is very compelling and hard to put down once you start reading. Even if you are not exactly going through the same types of things, her ability to talk openly and humorously about her life helps to open those rooms inside all of our souls/minds that may have been closed or forgotten about. And if nothing else her writing is inspirational to get out there and make positive changes in your life or simply to get out and live. As I have entered a somewhat stagnant stage of life, I've decided to go back and reread this book for another healthy dose of inspiration and hopeful dose of personal enlightenment. Here is to you finding inspiration in her words....
DMJ More than 1 year ago
As I started reading this book I was sure that Eat would be my favorite part of the book; then as I continued reading, Pray was equally satisfying. By the time I read Love and finished the book, I realized that the author wove a wonderful story with each section building on the others, just as in life. I found the book inspirational and took from it the fact that we each know what is best for us and we must all be our own guides through life.
SuzanSkylark More than 1 year ago
This book, from the first couple of pages, is so compelling . . pulls you right in! Liz Gilbert has a rare gift, in my opinion, to reach the reader in a very personal way. It's one of those books that seems to have "something for everyone" - men and women alike.

I'm grateful for the brief chapters, because this is a books that I didn't want to be done with- I carry it with me everywhere and savor each chapter as a gift. It's funny because every time someone sees me reading it, it's always "Oh, don't you LOVE that book? It really spoke to me . . "

Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert- this book has made reading fun again, and offered me a spiritual guide without ever preaching to me. The humor and travel insights make it a well rounded read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read some really wonderful books lately which I couldn't put down and finished in just a few days......but this book is torture! I hate to start a book and not finish it but this is just tooo boring. Nothing happens but her ego...on and on and on. I do not recommend this book to anyone. What a waste of time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After getting swept up in the hype from the Oprah show, I was very excited to get started on this book. After struggling to finish, I closed it thinking...'What did I miss? What was all the excitement about?' Not only was this book painfully boring, I found myself constantly annoyed with how self-absorbed this woman was. Unfortunately, all I could picture was a whining heiress complaning about life not being fair, all while kicking the dollars she uses as tissue paper out of her way. I fully support the art of making oneself happy with food, prayer and love, however that art was not conveyed well in her depiction. From the short description, a book about her sister would have been a better route.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this for my book club too, and I am glad to see that other people fee the same way I do. I just really could not deal with this woman. She was just such a complainer that I wanted to scream 'suck it up'. She obivously has never had any real problems in her life or she would not feel so sorry for herself. You would think seeing really poor people in India would make her realize that her life isn't so bad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Since several friends and published reviews gushed about this book I had looked forward to it, but was disappointed throughout, and and after I finished it. In fact, I had to plow thru all of it long after I found myself 'underwhelmed''somewhere in the Italy chapters' since it was my Book Club's choice for current discussion. For someone who spends as much time as she does on introspection, I did not find many lasting 'pearls' of wisdom that I could relate to. I was left feeling that it was also 'all about her' - barely any references of what she might mean or contribute to the people she meets, only what they mean - or can do for - her. It also gripes me that the author seems to call on God as she would a personal assistant or on-call healer: once again, it is mostly about what He can do for her, not about a real relationship, which requires commitment. She does write well. But I wish I has spent my $$ on a different book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry- I just don't like whimpy, whiney females who are so absorbed in themselves they don't notice the world around them. Here is a woman who goes through 'enlightenment' in India, only to come out and nearly get scammed in Bali. Further, I felt that she made a very whimpy relationship choice in the end- I don't know if she really likes him. I would have hoped she would emerge from India with a stronger sense of self that would guide her to select her relationships (not be selected) and be aware of people and things around her. There are many witty parts to the book and enjoyable lines. However, don't pick up this book thinking that you are going to gain a better sense of your self.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is split into three.. Italy, India, and Indonesia. From day one, it has been really hard to get into the book. I like books that I cannot put down and this is definitely not one of them. The Italy section was interesting and I was hoping the book would gradually get better. I am a few chapters into the India part and I cannot read anymore. I have heard good and bad reviews about this book, and I am going to have to say mine is one of the bad.