This book had been on my shelf of unread books since over a year now. I’d bought it over amazon when it was available at a throwaway price of simply 89 rupees (approx $1.125). Although I did not know what the book was about when I ordered it, I knew there was a critically acclaimed and widely successful movie based on it, which basically told me that it couldn’t be a bad one. After reading it, here’s what I thought :
The title of this book has a deeper meaning to it than just 3 words that have now become synonymous when tied with each other, mainly due to the success of this book. It is a short journal from the time when its writer went travelling to three different countries in pursuit of three different things – Italy (Pleasure), India (Spirituality), Bali (Balance) and this is what corresponds to the book’s name – EAT (in Italy), PRAY (in India) and LOVE (in Bali, Indonesia).
These are also the three Is – ITALY, INDIA, INDONESIA.
The book starts off with the beginning of a midlife crisis for the author, crying in her bathroom and praying to God, something she’s never done before. Although she’d never prayed before, she found a great sense of calm and relief through it and that’s how her search for happiness through devotion and spirituality begun.
The author had almost everything any middle aged person could aspire for – Money, career, friends, etc. However, a terrible divorce and a breakup later, with no clue of what to do ahead, she decided to take a year off and spend it across 3 countries over a period of 4 months each.
It is important here to note that Elizabeth Gilbert had been a successful author before this bestseller and had some money saved up and took an advance on a promise to write another book about her experiences. (On a personal note, as important as it is to take time off to discover yourself; taking a year off and living in 3 countries needs a lot of financial planning, especially if you have someone dependent on you. Debt can never be a solution in these cases and it is important to have a concrete plan!)
Moving on, the book is equally divided into 36 chapters each, for all the 3 countries she visits. The writing is nice and at times appears so dreamy, that you’ll find yourself falling in love with the country and the idea of it. Although, while it appears dreamy, this is also one of the most candid books I’ve ever read.
The author does not shy away from talking about her weak moments, her troubles and challenges, her hardships and about everything else which is very real that not many people talk or like to share about. The candidness along with the author’s humour make it a fun read almost through the whole book.
There were a few parts in the middle that seemed dull or filled with too much ‘philosophy/spirituality’, which I personally couldn’t relate to. But that’s truly subjective and one who’s ever been through heartbreak or wanted to take a sabbatical should be able to relate to this book quite well.
In conclusion, I’d not say it’s a ‘must-read’ because it’s not for everyone, however it is definitely a good book and a good read!