I recently read Eat, Pray, Love for my moms' group book club. Although I won't make it to book club, I still wanted to read the book. I also took the opportunity to watch the movie.
I liked the book better, partly because the book was better able to go in depth. The movie wasn't bad, but the nature of movies is that they generally have to be concise. Some of the best thoughts in the book weren't in the movie, which was disappointing.
Here's the thing: I found Elizabeth Gilbert to be aggravating, narcissistic, and somewhat infantile. By that I mean that she didn't fully develop as a person until the journey of the story. That made it really hard to care about her and want to find out if she would evolve.
There are women who don't seem able to define themselves other than as an extension of a man. Starting in high school, they move from one boyfriend to another, never alone for more than a week or two. EG is one of these women, stunted in growth, molding themselves into the image of each man. How can you care about someone who isn't really a person but a reflection?
I applaud her for realizing she needed to change and find herself. Swearing off relationships and sex was exactly what she needed to learn who she was. The whole 4 months each in Italy, India and Bali? A little indulgent, but if she had the means, why not? Most people don't have that luxury. And one certainly doesn't need to go to such extremes.
One of the best lines in the movie is when Julie Roberts (as EG) is talking to Sofi who is concerned about the weight she has gained. She says something to the effect of has any man ever complained about her body? Probably not because he thinks he's won the lottery if he has a naked woman. This is so true!
There are a couple of ideas in the book that I really liked.
Ketut explains about having a special meditation that will take him up seven levels. He also has another that will take him down seven levels. EG's assumption is that the first will take him to heaven and the second to hell, but he explains that they both will take him to heaven, just different ways. Basically, we all end up in the same place, but we choose our path. Heaven and hell are of our own making.
She also has an interesting method of talking to 'god' (really just herself) by writing in a notebook. I like the simplicity. It's a wonderful way to tap into the better part of herself, learning that she has some answers - you know, god helps he (or she) who helps himself. And the story she tells in Italy about a man who prays before a statue of a saint to please, please, please let him win the lottery only to have the statue some to life one day and ask the man to please, please, please buy a ticket.... well, it's all about the same thing. Relying on some deity to solve our problems isn't going to do it. We need to help ourselves.
I'm sure there is much I'm forgetting. I wish I could make it to book club and talk about the book.