January 9, 2008

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love is everywhere and everyone seems to have nothing but good things to say about it. Elizabeth Gilbert has done something extremely brave in this account of her journey towards self-realization by taking the reader through it all with her--the good, the bad, and the ... beautiful. She invites the reader to be her confidant, best friend, travel companion and silent partner in the difficult and courageous act of truly looking oneself full in the face and living honestly with what one finds there.

Eat, Pray, Love is a chronicle of Gilbert's travels through Italy, India and Indonesia, where she respectively pursues the arts of pleasure, devotion and balance. The book is structured around 108 tales that mirror the 108 beads of the japa mala, a traditional Indian prayer necklace. Gilbert grounds the reader in each place with intriguing insights and illuminations of the cities and villages in which she stays and sprinkles the tales with several colourful and fascinating characters. Most endearingly, she expresses herself with self-depreciating humour and wit throughout even the most heart-wrenching of her struggles. The book stands as a love letter to the human experience, as well as the earth on which we carry it out.

As Gilbert prepares to move on from Italy, she sums up her experience in this way: "... I will leave with the hope that the expansion of one person--the magnification of one life--is indeed an act of worth in this world. Even if that life, just this one time, happens to be nobody's but my own."

Here's to the myriad ways in which we can all exercise a similar kind of expansion in our lives.