Lize's Reviews > Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
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's review
Aug 03, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2007, journeywomen, biographical
Read in January, 2007

It feels strange talking about this book three years after I read it in 2007, with a movie (!) coming out starring Julia Roberts, and after its popularity produced a horrendous 'backlash' (oh how I loathe that word), with some feminist websites literally baying for the poor author's blood. (Yay sisterhood!) None of which I understand. I don't believe the author had the slightest intention of speaking for all women (who possibly could?), so is it any sort of justice to pillory her because she doesn't speak for all women? All any of us can really do is tell our own story. She did, and hers happened to find an audience, book and film deal.

Anyway, I loved this when I read it three years ago, and it was one of those books that shows up at exactly the right time. I was going through a mountain of personal grief then, and although we were grieving for completely different reasons, I could relate to her and what she was trying to do to make herself better. I found her writing style to be delightful, and some of the things she discovered in the ashram in India turned out to be helpful in my own life at the time. The “ritual for letting go” and her vow not to “harbor unhealthy thoughts” both struck a deep chord:

Instructions for Freedom

1. Life's metaphors are God's instructions.

2. You have just climbed up and above the roof. There is nothing between you and the Infinite. Now, let go.

3. The day is ending. It's time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.

4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. Your being here is God's response. Let go, and watch the stars come out--on the outside and on the inside.

5. With all your heart, ask for grace and let go.

6. With all your heart forgive him, FORGIVE YOURSELF, and let him go.

7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go.

8. Watch the heat of the day pass into the cool night. Let go.

9. When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. It's safe. Let go.

10. When the past has passed from you at last, let go. Then climb down and begin the rest of your life. With great joy.

"So I've started being vigilant about watching my thoughts all day, and monitoring them. I repeat this vow about 700 tines a day: "I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore". Every time a diminishing thought arises, repeat the vow. I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore. The first time I heard myself say this, my inner ear perked up at the word "harbor", which is a noun as well as a verb. A harbor, of course, is a place of refuge, a port of entry. I pictured the harbor of my mind--a little beat up, perhaps, a little storm-worn, but well-situated and with a nice depth. The harbor of my mind is an open bay, the only access to the island of my Self (which is a young and volcanic island, yes, but fertile and promising). This island has been through some wars, it's true, but is now committed to peace, under a new leader (me) who has instituted new policies to protect the place. And now--let the word go out across the seven seas--there are much, much stricter laws on the books about who may enter this harbor.

You may not come here anymore with your hard and abusive thoughts, with your plague ships of thoughts, with your slave ships of thoughts, with your warships of thoughts--all these will be turned away. Likewise, any thoughts that are filled with angry or starving exiles, with malcontents and pamphleteers, mutineers and violent assassins, desperate prostitutes, pimps, and seditious stowaways--you may not come here anymore, either. Cannibalistic thoughts, for obvious reasons, will no longer be received. Even missionaries will be screened carefully, for sincerity. This is a peaceful harbor, the entryway to a fine and proud island that is now only beginning to cultivate tranquility. If you can abide by by these new laws, my dear thoughts, then you are welcome in my mind--otherwise, I shall turn you all back toward the sea from whence you came.

That is my mission, and it will never end."

Yes, it looks a little gooey, a little New Age-y three years later, but I can still see what I saw in it. When you're in a dark hole and everything hurts, you never know what you'll want or what will help. Three years ago, this did.

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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Isabel Your review is interesting.
It was a rollercoaster for me, when I read it.

Celina I never got the backlash against this book either. So, because not everyone can afford to take a year off to travel and heal after a divorce, nobody should, even if she writes a book to share what she learned? I don't get that at all.

I love the quote you excerpted.

Antof9 I'm with Flora3 -- was surprised to hear the backlash when I did. I read it in a bookring for a bookcrosser who asked a small handful of friends to read it and write notes/comments, etc. in her copy so she'd have it when she hiked the Appalachian (sp?) trail.

I don't know if it was the "why" for me when I was reading it, or what, but I really liked it. I felt like there was a lot of stuff I could learn from it, and chose to read it that way (I guess).

I wasn't a *huge* fan of the "love" part, but still liked the book a lot.

My biggest regret is that I didn't have my own copy with me when I started reading the bookring copy, and didn't make the same notes in mine that I made in my friend's. I wrote a LOT in that book!

message 4: by Isabel (last edited Aug 06, 2010 02:59PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Isabel Your comments are very interesting. I never heard of any backlash when I read it or I can't remember, but I can't say I loved the book either.
I loved the Italy part. Loved, loved, loved it. All the talk about Italian food, yummy, yummy, yummy. I hated, absolutely hated her India part. Although her experiences there were only hers and what she never tried to make universally valid, the entire episode of finding a 'higher power' got on my nerves. Didn't care, didn't want to read about it. I know, it's because the more I read about any kind of religion or supernatural power, the more I realise how much of an atheist I am. Had it not been only a third of the small book, I'd have given up by then. Her time in Indonesia somehow reconciled me with the book again. But all in all, the love I felt for the book in its first third never made up for my absolute dislike of the India part.

Antof9 I have seen a TON of comments about rich white people and entitlement and "who has the money to abandon their life and travel for a year?" ... since the movie came out.

I haven't seen the movie. But I didn't ever feel that when I was reading the book.

Celina This book is being discussed right now on Book Talk. I'm amazed by the venom. I put in my two bits, but I was one of only two people who didn't hate it.

Antof9 wow, people are ... as vehement about this as Wild Animus!

I liked your comments, BTW :)

Isabel Woah! I see how people dislike this because of her so called whiney writing and her affluent backround.
All of this did not register with me in any way that would have made me dislike it. If anything, I was happy for her that she could do this without the problem of time or money to think about.

As I said, I had huge, huge, HUGE problems with her 'religiousness'. But that's another cup entirely.

As to the 'whiney': if this is a book about her experience, why shouldn't she write in a whiney and self-absorbed way if she had done so. I read the book, I didn't think it was self-centred eyond the usual for a book of this kind. It did explicitely say that it was about her one year trip. If she had said it was about the people and places which she met and saw during that one year, well then, that wuld have been a lie but she did not claim that.
I usually do not read those 'Life Story' books because I do not like the whiney tone but this one was just fine in that respect.

Antof9 I like how you said that, Isa! I agree :)

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