Acfilmer's Reviews > Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
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's review
Aug 09, 11

Wow. Normally you would expect Asians living in the Third World to absolutely loathe this book (e.g. ppl like me) and what it represents but it seems that more 'developed country' women are appalled at Gilbert's memoir.

Before getting into the real contents or soul (excuse the pun) of the book, a word about the writing, which is effortless. Gilbert's power of putting her experiences on paper is quite incredible. There are a million different things in each memory but she has the gift of choosing exactly the right ones to help you see it the way she saw it. Now, I live in Malaysia, which (for those who are not entirely sure) is a totally different country than Indonesia, but we are neighbours. Because of certain similarities in culture and background, I find that Gilbert's interpretation of Indonesian and Balinese culture may not be spot on, but her view of things were genuine and well expressed.

To the heart of the book, which is the author's journey through three countries - Italy, India and Indonesia - to recapture a sense of individualism, a sense of self and indeed, the feeling of happiness. Now, many people may equate "having everything" (a steady marriage, a good job, a house, the opportunity to have children, a loving family, friends) as the secret , or more accurately the ‘key’, to happiness but I never understood why this was so. “Having everything” here is the genetic, average bar we seem to think should apply to everyone. But people aren’t like that, and happiness isn’t like that. Some people will marry and be perfectly happy, some will be single their whole lives by choice and find the same satisfaction. Some want children, others prefer to only share their lives with their partners or friends. To be dissatisfied with people who want something different (or label them with adjectives like ‘selfish’, ‘self-absorbed’ and ‘self-centred’) is to try to impose one’s own standard of satisfaction (and yes, happiness) on others. And really, how open-minded is that?

So I guess this book is not for all. If you’re hoping for a journey that comes full circle and ends where it begins, this book is not for you. If you feel that the journey of self discovery should be governed by laws of conduct and specific beliefs, don’t buy this book. If you want a story where the heroine is strong and principled and unwavering through the whole (oh, heck, most… HALF of the…) book, don’t pick this up. But if you believe and hope for all of the above (as I do), but are open to someone having a different view, try this story. It’s well written and, despite what you may judge of the author, genuine.


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