When a book is overhyped, I tend to avoid it. Particularly if it is hyped as filled with spiritual insight. I become a late reader, or a not-at-all reader. I finally caved in to pressure and picked up Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Friends in book clubs told me about discussions they had about the book. Comments were: “I loved it!” “I didn’t get it.” “Where’s the spiritual insight?” “It may have been a search for something, but I didn’t see Gilbert find whatever it was she was seeking.”
Well, with that kind of confusion, I had to read it.
For those of you who haven’t read the book, it is divided into three parts: Eat is in Italy, Pray is in India, and Love is in Indonesia.
I get the “eat” part. If I were seeking something, though, I doubt I’d write over a hundred pages about pasta. I didn’t see much spiritual growth. Waistline growth, yes, but not spiritual. I wasn’t sure I could continue reading, but I stuck it out.
The book came together in “pray” set at an ashram in India. This is the part most of my friends hated. I didn’t, because it brought back memories of being in a Zen nunnery in grad school in Japan. I still meditate nearly 40 years later. I could relate to the teachings, the discipline of meditation, the scrubbing of floors.
I didn’t get anything from “love.” Didn’t like it. Thought it was weak. Okay, Gilbert goes to Bali to study with a medicine man and ends up in bed with a Brazilian. Okay, she finds love. I don’t think this added to her spiritual journey, though. Not enough of the teachings of her ancient medicine man. And the ending: right out of a romance novel.
Review is mixed. I liked the center part because I returned to my own meditation discipline. The rest? Weaker than I thought it should be.