Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

What a brilliant memoir. Shattered by a crippling divorce and a very unhealthy rebound relationship, Liz Gilbert strikes out to find herself through a year divided between pleasure (Italy), prayer (India) and the balance between the two (Indonesia).

Through her journey she eats a lot of pasta and ingrains herself with the wonderful decadence that is Rome, she spends four months at an Ashram in India communing with God and getting in touch with herself, and spends time with an ancient medicine man in Bali, learning his secrets about how to live life to the fullest.

She meets the most wonderful characters, that jump off the page and come to life under her excellent narration. I especially loved Richard from Texas, a crass and down to earth man whom Liz meets in India. He is so fully in tune with himself and has accepted who he is so completely--I admire him so much. And he makes me laugh.

Throughout the book I really felt like a part of her journey, and rejoiced with her at the end when everything came into balance for her. She finally was able to come to terms with herself and to let go of the worry and the pain that had consumed her. I admire that very much, and hope someday to begin my own spiritual journey to aspire to the same balance. This book does inspire you to reach beyond yourself in order to see the better, more complete you. I highly recommend this book to anyone who needs this inspiration, or to those who would just like to read an entertaining story full of colorful characters and beautiful backdrops. I think all could get something different out of this book and still be entirely satisfied.

A bit about the locations in this book:
Home to one of the oldest civilizations in history. Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated municipality (central area), with over 2.7 million residents. The city has been a focal point for arts and culture since the dark ages, and was of the central cities of the Italian Renaissance, which sparked a rebirth of culture for all of Western civilization.

Rome's influence on western Civilization can hardly be overestimated. Due to this influence,[Rome has been nicknamed "Caput Mundi" (Latin for "Capital of the World")and "The Eternal City". In 2007 Rome was the 11th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the EU, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy.

Don't even get me started on the cuisine influence-the entire first third of this book had me craving pasta big time!

India: Instead of an overview on the country as a whole, which would take too much time, I decided instead to shed some light on the Ashram, one of which Liz lived in.

Traditionally, an ashram is a religious hermitage. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio or dojo.

An ashram would typically, but not always, be located far from human habitation, in forests or mountainous regions, amidst refreshing natural surroundings conducive to spiritual instruction and meditation. The residents of an ashram regularly performed spiritual and physical exercises, such as the various forms of Yoga. Other sacrifices and penances, such as Yajnas were also performed. Many ashrams also served as Gurukuls or residential schools for children.

Ashrams have been a powerful symbol throughout Hindu history and theology. Most Hindu kings, until the medieval ages, are known to have had a sage who would advise the royal family in spiritual matters, or in times of crisis, who was called the rajguru, which literally translates to royal teacher. A world-weary emperor going to this guru's ashram, and finding solace and tranquility, is a recurring motif in many folktales and legends of ancient India.

Bali: is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the country's 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island.

With a population recorded as 3,551,000 in 2009, the island is home to the vast majority of Indonesia's small Hindu minority. About 93.2% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, while most of the remainder follow Islam. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music.

If you like this book, check out: Persepolis, Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, and Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakuruni


BookQuoter said...

I like that you expounded on the three countries. Rome is awesome. India and Bali are on my bucket list!!

MJ said...

They are on mine too!

Elle said...

Wonderful review! I hope I find it as inspirational as you did - I still haven't read this yet!