Eat Pray Love – Apples to Oranges
What do books like Twilight, 50 Shades and Grey, and Eat Pray Love have in common? People either completely love or absolutely hate these stories but everyone keeps buying them. This month we delve deeper into pages of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert(2007), to uncover why people are drawn to or disappointed by her journey to find happiness post-divorce.
I started reading this story with an open heart because I had just finished her amazing book called Big Magic. Click here for my review. I consider it to be the ultimate self-help book for struggling creative souls. In Big Magic, her voice was compassionate while authoritative. She was there to give you the solutions to repair your relationship with your creative muse. She had become my guru. Thus, it was a bit shocking to start reading Eat Pray Love when her wise voice was replaced with deep despair as the story essentially begins with tears over the realization that she wants a divorce.
Eat Pray Love is a story broken into three sections; she devours scrumptious food in Italy, she finds spiritual awakening in India and she finds romance in Bali. In its essence, this journey of a woman’s self-discovery was what I craved to read. However, my mind struggled for a traditional telling of this classic storyline, where the author would come to grips over the end of her marriage by finding herself though international travel and be rewarded with new love. Instead it was complicated. Not only was she recovering from her failed marriage but her heart was broken, for most of the novel, over the guy she started dating after her husband. When it was time for the new love portion of the story, as she finally met her future husband, she was really drawn to the other guy and if that guy would have been cool with exchanging email addresses instead of phone numbers, this book might have had a completely different ending.
I wondered how they would translate this story into a movie. Would they stay true to Elizabeth’s emotional vulnerability and harsh circumstances? Fans were equally divided on whether or not they enjoyed the 2010 movie starring Julia Roberts but I loved it. Watching her eat pizza in Italy, pray in India and bicycle in Bali saved me very expensive plane tickets, Javier Bardem played Felipe, they added an expanded role for the amazing Viola Davis and did I mention that Javier Bardem played Felipe?
Which version did I enjoy the most? The Movie
I think that verdict says more about me and less about the author’s ability to be vulnerable with her audience and share the messy parts of her life while I wanted the Hollywood edited version, to have the rough edges smoothed out, favoring a happily ever after.
Life was complicated in her novel and I felt the most impacted by her relationship with Wayan, the woman who divorced an abusive husband (despite lack of familial or cultural support), sold all her possessions trying to gain custody of her daughter (while adopting two female orphans from a life on the streets), and was weeks away from losing it all again due to eviction because she couldn’t afford rent. Every fiber of my being screamed for Elizabeth to try to help them and she did, in spectacular fashion, by raising thousands of dollars from family and friends. In the movie, Wayan and her family got a home and there was a round of emotional applause from the viewers. That was a clean ending where everyone was happy. Too bad it wasn’t the reality and the ice cold dose of water the readers received when Elizabeth realized that her friend was playing on her emotions and trying to scam her for more money. Elizabeth had to play hardball against Wayan while trying to make herself and the audience understand Wayan’s motives. Real life is complex and often messy and she was brave enough to share it all with us.
I adore Elizabeth Gilbert and I’m glad I made up my own mind about Eat Pray Love. I encourage you to do the same.
Next Month, we will review another story of a woman in crisis after divorce but instead of finding self-awareness through mediation, calories and love, Rachel gets through each day with alcohol, depression, and self-loathing in Paula Hawkin’s Girl on the Train.
Columnist: Jessie lives in Oregon and writes to avoid the rain. She only feels compelled to kill her characters when she starts a new diet and if she hates the ending of a TV episode she’ll rewrite it to give everyone a happily ever after. Currently Jessie is an unpublished author but she works tirelessly to removed two letters – un – from that word.
Column book and movie tape drawn by Evangeline Owen