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I'm writing my first review because I'm appalled that I nearly didn't order this because of some weak reviews on this site, but my friend's persistent recommendation won me over--fortunately!
Gilbert's book is an intimate look at one person's struggle not to answer life's questions but to put herself on her own journey towards answering them. This true story also bears great universal truths. She wrestles with problems that eventually plague most of us, turning for help to the profound but colorful people she meets along her way, from a teenager in India to a Bali guru (aged somewhere between 77 and 102) to Luca Spaghetti, whose name is no less amusing than his comments.
Gilbert manages to weave in striking metaphors that light up her text. Her description of being visited one night by the personifications of loneliness and sadness, harrassing her like film noir police detectives, is alone worth the price of the book.
The spiritual philosophies Gilbert learns are sprinkled throughout her story without weighing it down but adding a profound dimension that will have you mulling them over long after, and perhaps even incorporating into your own world view.
I'm buying 3 copies for friends and recommending it to everyone else. One friend even sent it to someone she knows in England who's undergoing cancer treatment because I've been so enthusiastic about it.
My big problem is that here in Jerusalem we're waiting for it to be translated--when's that going to happen?
21 of 25 people found this review helpful
I'd already read this book in hardback before buying the audiobook (I loved it that much), and discovered that Elizabeth Gilbert's reading of her own memoir revealed new depth, humor, and poignancy.
(Please permit this technical note: If I could have, I would've deducted half a star from my rating on the grounds that Gilbert's voice is low and husky. I listened to this book mostly in my car, and at times her husky voice dropped so low that the reading becomes muffled or inaudible -- or maybe that's just how loud my car is! It is occasionally distracting, but not overly so.)
This "travel" book is actually a tale of Gilbert's stripping away of the obstacles and existential plaque that had suffocated her carefully, but not thoughtfully, constructed life as a wife in the 'burbs. She treats the subject of her awakening and healing with great honesty, self-effacing humor, and a tremendous degree of likability. (I found myself wishing that she lived around the block, just because it would be so much fun to share an evening and a bottle of wine with her.)
Gilbert's description of living (and eating) in Italy for 4 months, then spending 4 months in a Yoga ashram in India, then topping it off with 4 months in Indonesia do capture her environments, and the surrounding cultures. But this is not, strictly speaking, a "travel" book. You aren't going to hear as much about how Italians work as you are about how Liz Gilbert works (but it's hardly a loss). Be prepared to follow the thread of her self-discovery through a combination of woolgathering and self-reflection; be prepared to learn about the spiritual path of her Guru, which Gilbert follows and explains at length in the book's middle section. And get ready to laugh out loud!
In summary, this book will long remain on my list of "Five books I would take with me if I had to live on a deserted island." I hope that others find it as enlightening and inspiring as I did.
34 of 41 people found this review helpful