Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat Pray Love - You may have seen the film but have you read the book? A chatty and informal writing style that could be described as a self-help book. Inspiring or Trite - you decide!

Verging on being slightly trashy (!) this is a lighter book.

Whilst the writing will never win literary acclaim, it has sold over 5 million copies.

Why? Because it's an inspiring and uplifting story that makes you remember that we all have choices in life, even when we feel as if we don’t!

We chose this book after seeing Elizabeth Gilbert being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. We were struck by what a wonderful energy and presence she had and by the huge impact she seemed to have had on the audience (all of whom had read her book).


The Plot

After a disastrous break up and a bout of depression,Liz decides to give up her New York life and go travelling.

She first goes to Italy, where she eats copious amounts of pasta and learns some Italian. (pleasure)

She then moves onto India where she learns the art of yoga and meditation. (devotion)

Her last stop is in Bali, where she falls in love. (A combination of pleasure and devotion)

The book portrays her experiences and emotions and the lessons she learns along her journey to find herself.


The Author Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat Pray Love



When being interviewed about Eat Pray Love, Gilbert talks about The "quest physics’ – a pursuit of your truth typified by a willingness to leave ‘things’ behind, to be open to learning, and to accept everyone who enters your life as a teacher.

She is not suggesting that we all leave our husbands and go travelling. Instead we all need to find an inner stillness.

She is also quick to discuss the difference between selfishness and "self actualisation" - a decision to do the best for yourself to become a better person. (A good area for discussion in your book club)


We visited her website to add to our bookclub discussion too. There's a discussion guide and some nice podcasts that you can listen to as a group:

Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love Site


Themes

Eat Pray Love





Depression

Liz describes her life in New York and the separation with her husband and admits freely that she is depressed. In fact Elizabeth Gilbert says

"the race to always be the fastest, richest, most productive and best can become a killing addition’



Self Actualisation

Liz's entire journey is one of self discovery and finding herself.

Some will argue that this is escapism from real life and a selfish act. Others will agree whole heartedly that such a journey, if it results in a better understanding of life, its values and happiness, is the most important  of all.

Harmony

The importance of finding a balance in life is critical and is discussed throughout the book. This can relate to finding a balance between devotion and pleasure; work and home life; time for the kids V's time for yourself etc.

Love

Liz finding love, at the end of the book,  is a real fairy tale ending.

But there are many more examples of love in this book.

she falls in love with Italy, its many pleasures, including food, and finds love in many friendships along the way. How important love is to us for our own happiness and wellbeing.

Devotion

The section in India at the Ashram shows her dedication to master the art of meditation.


Book Club Questions?

Eat Pray Love


Is Liz a likeable character?


Her decision to travel and discover herself, is it selfish or self actualisation (see authors section above)

Does a selfish / self-indulgent act need to be seen as a negative thing?

Is Liz self indulgent or brave?


Is Liz running away from the kind of responsibility which most young people  meet head on. (mortgage, jobs etc)

"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort?" (p272)  Do you agree? Or are some people just born happy?

"All the sorrow & trouble of this world is caused by unhappy people!" (p273) Do you agree?

Is this story inspiring?

Is there still a stigma about depression in today's society?

Most of us won't be able to give up our lives to find ourselves? Can we achieve the same results in our every day lives? How?

What lessons can we learn from Liz?


Like?

Eat Pray Love




This book got really mixed reviews at our book club and sometimes this sparks a wonderful debate - and it did. The overall average score was 6/10 but there were those that loved it and those that hated it.

The group was torn between Liz being a courageous adorable character, V's being a rather "up herself" over the top selfish individual.


We can all get something from her direct experiences because  most people of her age are too busy working, bringing up children, & paying   mortgages to be able to take a year out in their thirties for a voyage of self discovery.

We actually wonder, especially as she finishes up with a father figure, (who has conveniently had a vasectomy) whether she is running away from the kind of responsibility which most of you young people  meet head on. What do you think?

Perhaps we are being  harsh but sometimes we wanted to say to her, "For goodness sake grow up & deal with what life throws at you!"

The book is hardly stretching and does verge on being a holiday read but the debate more than made up for it.

If nothing else it reminds us that we hold the cards to our own destiny and can change our lives if we want it badly enough. Generally speaking, the grass is rarely greener on the other side of the fence. We must try to make our own grass greener!

In between  all the humour & discovery, psychology & soul searching permeate  almost every page, especially at the Ashram, & we can all identify with some of it. All this adds up to the overall success of the book. There are some lessons & direction for us all here.

Top of Eat Pray Love

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