So, I recently finished reading Eat, Pray, Love.
I admit I have wanted to read this book for some time, probably since seeing the trailer for the movie, years ago. I know, I am very slow, behind the times, not very hip, and I’m not in Oprah’s will. Whatevers!
Anyway, I thought it seemed an interesting book to muse upon, and waited to buy it so that I could get the most out of my whopping $9.99 (for an electronic book!!) (which is really exorbitant by my standards, since usually I won’t go much above 99 cents. Or free). I wanted to be sure that I was devoting my mind and soul to the reading of this acclaimed piece o’ literature.
So, since I feel it usually best to present the Bad Stuff first, and follow with the Nice Stuff, here we go.
I found myself disliking the narrator (well, the author, let’s be honest here) (but it feels less mean to dislike a disembodied voice) fairly early on. Now granted, there were things she said which were absolutely brilliant and witty and award-winning, but we’re not on the Nice bit yet, so forget I said that.
So yes. I disliked her for a few reasons. Most of which fall under the umbrella of “feeling a disconnect with the narrator.” As in, “this lady is so far from what I am that I don’t even know if I can give this a fair chance.”
Now, I know this doesn’t make sense, completely, because I am utterly unlike most of the characters I read. I mean, I’m not like any characters I read. Hardly ever. maybe some of them have blonde hair, but that may be the extent of it. So perhaps I am misidentifying something here.
Part of the problem is likely due to the fact that the idea of the story, that of taking off a year from “normal” life, traveling to three countries, and finding oneself, sounds like a pretty good fantasy, in my book. Add in something about a friendly dog and some horses, and that’s my perfect novel right there. So perhaps part of me was hoping to identify with the author somehow, thinking that if we were similar, I, too, might soon travel to three countries and find myself. Sounds reasonable, right?
When she mentions on the first page, that she hopes/doesn’t that her young, handsome, Italian tutor will/won’t kiss her (He can’t be fat? Ugly? Too hairy? No.) and her reasoning that follows has me sighing in annoyance. First page, people.
When she further mentions her “passionate love affair” with a hot guy just after she had gotten separated/divorced, I am further displeased. Still on the first page, and I’ve got some serious issues.
Who the hell has a “passionate love affair” with a “beautiful brown-eyed man” just as she is getting separated? What about the time spent with eating gallons of ice cream while watching “Bridget Jones’ Diary”? What about making ill choices during drunk occasions and waking up next to someone who resembles Dracula? In the daylight? While his skin is disintegrating? What about the time spent feeling sorry for yourself/wondering if you’ll ever find love again/eating gallons of ice cream/drinking gallons of wine/making more bad choices/not getting out of bed/drinking more gallons of wine? Did I miss a page?
What’s even more excellent to discover is that this is the type of female who loses weight when she’s stressed.
What is that, like, .002% of the female population?
Anyway, I obviously had issues.
Apart from what I mentioned above, this superwoman also doesn’t have any self-image issues. I’m not saying we all should have them, and frankly, we’re supposed to love ourselves for what we are (but change what we can, I think), and all that jazz, but, come on.
She mentions some small insecurities here and there, and I suppose that’s fine, but I’m feeling no sympathy when she discusses her hatred for a particularly long-winded song-chant, or any of the other inner problems which were barring her way to nirvana.
Now, there were some Nice Things happening with this book. I loved her writing style. I loved the entire “book” about Italy, and did feel connected to her reasons attached to learning the language and the food. I identified (somewhat) with her attempts at “quieting the mind”, and, overall, her journey was a lovely and deep one.
In the end (but honestly, throughout), I came to realize that, while the tale was an interesting one, it was also disappointing. For me. I’m sure I’m not being fair in my assessment, and perhaps I exceedingly mind-hyped it beforehand, but, if this were a proper book with a cover and actual pages, it would not gain a coveted space on my “books to read over and over again” bookshelf.
Yes, I skimmed some bits, and yes, I read it to the end. (It was $9.99, for Pete’s sake.)
I am guessing that I’m in the Minority with my opinion here, but, this is A Week of Critique, after all. It would be no fun, whatsoever, if I just loved everything, right?