Eat Pray Love is the monologue of a Phobic American woman (“Liz”) in her mid-thirties. The first few chapters background the rest of the book, a confessional that tells how she came to find her 8 year marriage distasteful and how painful her divorce was, however she dismisses how it ever came to be that way. Leaving her audience only to guess it was so horrible she had to leave and find herself.
It took me nearly a year to finish it & I am sorely disappointed. The book drags a lot specifically in middle. I was so disgusted by the writer’s lack of awareness of her own privilege, her corny observations, and the unbelievably shallow way in which she represents a journey started due to grief.
Liz is so obsessed with male attention throughout the book (in every section, she expounds in great detail on her flirtations with men, many of whom seem to “take care of her” or compliment her on her wit, beauty, or charm), that it makes her self-described quest to learn to be alone seem absurd and ridiculous. She does not have a feminist bone in her body; shocking for a woman who is allegedly on a quest for self-discovery after what she describes as a “devastating divorce.”
She seems to have absolutely no capacity for self-awareness or reflection in this regard, and her superficial treatment of this and other aspects of her psyche bored me to tears. Basically, this memoir accounts her flirting her way across the globe into a new relationship, with little to no growth in self-awareness that I can perceive. Even in India, her purported time of inward reflection, she attaches her herself to the likes of Richard from Texas, who seems a cross between a father figure and object of flirtation. Ultimately, she falls in love with a man much older than she, who seems to dote on her in quite a paternalistic way.
Additionally, her brand of spirituality certainly does not come close to transcending the fashionable Western obsession with all things Eastern, particularly Buddhism and the ashram culture. That a Westerner could go to India on her spiritual quest and have absolutely no awareness of 1) her gross appropriation of another culture’s religion, and 2) the abject poverty that surrounds her, is inexcusable. She oozes privilege at every turn, and that privilege remains unacknowledged and unexamined. Her good fortune seems limitless, how is it possible for one person to be this lucky.
I was willing to look past my initial reaction that the end of a relationship is not, in the grand scheme of things, “that bad;” everyone’s suffering certainly has its own validity. However, I was unable to muster much empathy for Elizabeth Gilbert despite my attempts to overcome my disgust at her shallow preoccupation.
Ultimately, this woman had nothing to teach me (other than that I should trust my own instincts to abandon a book when I have such a strong reaction of dislike from page one). I am sorry I spent the time and energy trying to finish it