I first tried to buy this book when we were last in Colorado. It hadn't yet made it on to the best seller list and Oprah hadn't yet sang its praises. Alas, the book store didn't have any copies in stock and ordering was going to take too long.
So I promptly forgot about it.
Then I started to read reviews of the book and I was quite put off. The whole premise seemed self indulgent.
I'm fed up with this me me me mantra. I just hate it when magazines and television shows urge women to take more time out for themselves. Now don't get me wrong. The 2 hours I spend getting my haircut every 6 months is nothing short of paradise. I'm a big fan a manicures, pedicures, and massages and I wish I had more time (and money) for those indulgences. And I did when I was younger and not a mother or a wife. But now I've got responsibilities that extend well beyond myself and I owe it to them to give them that wee bit of time (and money). I'll have more time for myself again when they are gone.
But I kept hearing what I great book this was. And Oprah interviewed the author and she seemed funny so I thought I would give it a go.
When I got the book it was covered with praise from Julia Roberts, Minnie Driver, Elle McPherson and Meg Ryan. I was a bit put off from the accolades from Hilary Clinton but decided they couldn't all be wrong. So I tucked in.
Elizabeth finds herself distraught over her perfect life. She's married to man she once loved, living in a beautiful home with a successful career doing exactly what she has always wanted to do. Her husband wants children and she has suddenly realised she doesn't, for reasons she is unable or unwilling to articulate in the book. Nor does she ever explain why she so desperately wanted out of the marriage.
As she extricates herself from the marriage she becomes involved with a man in a fiery passionate but ultimately doomed relationship again for reasons she never explains.
To resolve the mess she has made she decides to run away from her problems and her life and spend a year travelling and writing about her adventures.
The Eat chapters of the book have Elizabeth spending 4 months in Italy perfecting her high school Italian and eating everything in sight. Most of the time is spent in Rome although she does do some travelling around with a envy inducing trip to Naples for some "to die for" pizza. By the end of the 4 months, she has put some weight on her New York boney ass and can speak Italian fluently.
This part of the story is told with a wry sense of humour and self deprecation. Surely she realises how ridiculous this all is, I thought. But I couldn't be too hard on her. I quite fancy eating everything in sight when I'm in Italy and perfecting my Italian would give me sufficient justification for the weight gain.
The Pray chapters of the book find Elizabeth off to an Ashram in India to practice yoga and chant. I love doing yoga but chanting is something I've never quite understood. She must have driven everyone in the Ashram absolutely crazy with her obsession over her failed love affairs. I certainly know she drove me crazy writing about it. When she decided to spend her last 6 weeks in silence I thought we would be done with her ruminations but they took a self satisfied tone. She was just so chuffed with herself for not talking she was convinced she had achieved nirvana or "sat in the palm of God's hand".
At this point I wanted to throw the book across the room of the glib tone of her writing. I should have because the Love chapters of the book became so annoying it felt like fingernails across a chalk board.
In Indonesia, our little precocious brat found Love but that was no surprise to anyone. This spineless women couldn't last more than a year without the validation of a man. She falls in love with a Brazilian who had also ran away from his life. To make matters worse she raises money for a woman and her three children to buy a house and then hounds the woman when she doesn't buy a house immediately. She actually manipulates the woman into buying a house. I hate gifts with conditions. She should have bought the house for her and given it to her instead of the cash if the intent was to provide a house.
I was hoping for some insight into spirituality and approaching life with calm serenity. Instead I got a diary of a women obsessed with herself. After a year of travelling, eating, praying, loving (?) I fear she may find herself at the same crossroads in a few years when she's not getting exactly what she wants from the man she loves.
Give this one a miss.