Thanks to a bevy of snow days this week and thanks to a quickly approaching due date at the library, I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert in what is anymore for me, record time...about 3 days. A big reason why I was able to veritably whip through this one is that it was at worst really good and at best fantastic.
My reasoning behind reading this one is mostly because I generally adore Julia Roberts, still am anticipating getting to watch the movie whenever Netflix lets me, and thought the idea of this story was an interesting one. It is the author's memoir of what amounts to a year lived abroad in Italy, India and Indonesia following a messy divorce and a messier rebound love affair. I basically knew this much before starting to read the book, but what I didn't know was how the book is further broken down. In fact, it's pretty cool. Gilbert spent a third of the year in each of these countries, so naturally, the book is divided into three parts. But then each part is broken down into 36 mini chapters. Why 36? Because 36 x 3 = 108. Why 108? Because there are 108 beads on (I hope I'm getting this next part right and I don't have the book in front of me anymore because of the aforementioned fast approaching due date) what amounts to an Indian rosary, though the concept of these particular prayer beads apparently predates the "invention" of a rosary by quite a few...hundred...years. Why 108? It has to do with how each digit of this greater number equals 9. Just read the book. Gilbert explains it quite nicely in the preface, or the 109th bead as she calls it. Due to my complete love of neat, orderly, clean appearances/concepts, this appeals to me. It's just so...neat. Orderly.
The year began in Italy, and was by far my favorite portion of the book. As I was finishing up this portion of the book, I suddenly realized that I've been reading a lot about Italy lately. Ah well, this time it wasn't all about Italy, just one glorious part. And really, this part was, in my opinion, the best because of the sheer irreverence and sarcasm embodied throughout, not to mention the really clever description. This girl knows how to write a unique analogy.
First, Italy and serious, gluttonous pleasure. Next, India and some down to business wrestling with spirituality. Then, Indonesia and a cumulative understanding of a life that includes both pleasure and spirituality.
The story is definitely not a travel monologue (like Bella Vita and Under the Tuscan Sun tend to be); it never makes any effort to be anything except a written story of Elizabeth Gilbert's wrestling with demons. Gilbert repeatedly describes herself as the type of person who can make a friend whenever and wherever she is. Yep, I can see that. After you read it, you're a friend. She's much too intimate to still hold you at arm's length after sharing all of that.
Savor this one with some tea and maybe a pastry, but then do some yoga and meditate for at least an hour afterwards. It's essential.