April Book Club

Tuesday, 1 May 2012 § 0

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

At 32 years old, Elizabeth Gilbert was educated, had a home, a husband, and a successful career as a writer. However, she was unhappy in her marriage and often spent the night sleeping on her bathroom floor. After separating from her husband and initiating a divorce, which he contested, she embarked on a rebound relationship which continued for some time but did not work out, leaving her devastated and alone.
Afterwards, while writing an article on yoga vacations in Bali, Gilbert met a ninth-generation medicine man who told her she would one day come back and study with him. After finalizing her difficult divorce, Gilbert spent the next year traveling around the world. The trip was paid for in advance with a book deal from the publisher. She spent four months in Italy, eating and enjoying life ("Eat"). She spent three months in India, finding her spirituality ("Pray").[7] She ended the year in Bali, Indonesia, looking for "balance" of the two and found love ("Love") in the form of a dashing Brazilian factory owner. (from Wikipedia)

The Buns & Roses WI Book Club were happy to indulge in the first section of the book that we were discussing - Eat - sampling from the Tiled Hall Cafe several of their fabulous cakes (Lemon and Ginger, Earl Grey Tea Bread and Coffee cake). The universal opinion of the group was that the cake was excellent, but views on Eat, Pray, Love were divided across the group.

In general, the group felt that the book was well written, easy and quick to get drawn into and that it was clear that the author is a proficient travel writer. Some members felt that the voyage of self discovery, especially the Indian "Pray" section really resonated with them; whereas others felt that this was actually the most challenging section to read within the book, potentially mirroring the personal challenge that the protagonist was undergoing with her daily prayer and work rituals. This lead onto a discussion of what is happiness. Maybe happiness is not necessarily something that comes without effort or sacrifice and needs to be worked at to achieve. As a group we found it interesting discussing the concept of pure pleasure seeking in the "Eat" section of the book and recognised that the Italians in the book are portrayed as being much better at enjoying and experiencing the simple pleasures of life and living in the moment.

With the cover stating clearly that the book has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, we debated the reason that this might be. We agreed that an hour long exposure piece on Oprah would certainly have helped book sales, but also the fact that it was pure escapism for many women feeling similarly frustrated and unhappy with their lives, but not necessarily possessing the courage (or perhaps more pertinently, the resources) to afford a year out in pursuit of self discovery. This moved the discussion very nicely onto where we would like to spend a year of our lives travelling to if we were able to - Scandinavia, Italy, India, Bali and America were all popular options.

Interestingly at the end of the editions of the book that we had read within the group, the author had inserted the first chapter of her next book - this was another topic for debate. Was this pure arrogance to include this or did it disappoint when you got to the end of the story quicker than expected as you'd not expected an extra chapter at the end of the book? It lead neatly onto the question of would we read her next book and in general as a group we concluded we wouldn't rule it out. However, similar to our discussions on travel we agreed with so many authors out there to read and so many places to visit would you go back to the familiar again or is it better to continually try out something new?

The next book was discussed and we agreed on Susan's suggestion of The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, an imaginative fantasy novel set in World War II about a little boy who loses his mother. We will meet again at the Tiled Hall Cafe on Sunday 10th June at 2pm. We hope that you will be able to join us.

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