Elizabeth Gilbert was a 30-year-old successful journalist with a perfect life (husband, fancy New York City apartment, fabulous weekend home) when she realized she was miserable. After surviving an acrimonious divorce, Gilbert sold her remaining possessions to spend a year abroad–four months each in three countries with nothing in common except starting with the letter “I.” The author’s reading of this memoir adds depth; she’s obviously not a professional narrator, but her vocal presence provides vivid color and quirky humor as she eats (in Italy), prays (in India), and finds love (in Indonesia). This is a delightful memoir that explores exotic countries as well as the author’s heart and soul. (from Amazon)
I got this audiobook for free through some promotion earlier this year (I think), and if I HADN’T gotten it for free I probably would have never read it. You know how sometimes a book is hyped so much that you don’t want to read it ever? That’s how I felt about Eat, Pray, Love, until one day I was really bored and wanted to listen to an audiobook, and so I listened to this one. Because why not?
Elizabeth Gilbert is actually a very good narrator, and her writing ain’t too bad, either. Sometimes Eat, Pray, Love does read a bit like an Eastern Philosophies 101 textbook, but since I didn’t know a whole heap of a lot about yoga or meditation or what have you beforehand, I found those sections really helpful. It gave me a chance to understand just what exactly EG was trying to do during her year of travel, way beyond “she wanted to find herself.”
Travel memoirs are basically my favorite non-fiction genre anyway, but I especially love travel memoirs where the person traveling do it for a purpose. It might be because they’ve always wanted to visit a certain site in a certain location, or because they want to learn a certain language in its home country, or because they’re going somewhere for work, but as long as they’ve got a solid reason (more than “because”) I’ll be interested in reading their memoir. EG travels in order to heal from the last few years (messy divorce) and to figure out how to be spiritually satisfied without giving up modern conveniences.
She manages to accomplish both those things pretty well, although I think the latter goal gets lost at the end, when she meets her new beau in Bali. The ending sequence, up until she starts her relationship with that dude, was really interesting. Then she focused on her new relationship and it got boring. Plus, I really wanted something more solid as an ending then “eventually I’ll figure it out.” I know that’s not how it works in real life, and this is a real life memoir so, y’know, I get that. But I felt like I spent all this time following this woman around, watching her cry and eat pastries and cry and sing chants and cry and frolic on the beach (and cry), and there was no satisfying ending to it all. Or, more like, I wasn’t satisfied with the ending. I think EG was pretty happy with it.
Eat, Pray, Love was a better read than I thought it’d be, and the audiobook was pretty darned good. EG can do decent accents, and she can pronounce all the Italian/Sanskrit words she needs to, and the WAY she read the books as a whole was just really entertaining. I think that if I’d read Eat, Pray, Love as a paper book, I might not have finished it. As an audiobook, though, I was fascinated (until the end).
Read: May 27-29, 2012