I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love three years ago. The best thing about it was Gilbert’s writing talent — she’s definitely got that. The book was entertaining in parts, but despite its rave reviews, there was nothing the least bit profound there. Although I enjoyed the sights and sounds of her adventures across the globe — to the piazzas of Italy, the ashrams of India, and the beaches of Bali — it was all quite a disappointment in the end.
Now, Julia Roberts is starring as Gilbert in the film version of Eat Pray Love… which is what can happen when enough of Oprah’s fans buy copies of your book.
With the film, comes not only a cash cow for travel agents and tour guides, but a resurgence of interest in Gilbert’s writing and personal path to peace. According to this article in the New York Post, not all who follow Gilbert’s path find her kind of happiness and success:
One 29-year-old Manhattanite, who asked to remain anonymous, read “EPL” when it came out, and credits it with introducing her to meditation and yoga. Years later, she says, she went to an ashram after a breakup.
Lacking the funds to jet to India, she headed to one upstate instead — only to find herself bored, lonely and mired in that depressing time between fall and winter.
Ultimately, she says, “the people there were interesting, but it didn’t have that overwhelming sense of spirituality and enlightenment that I think people associate with an ashram.”
Another person interviewed in the article wondered how many bored women will see the movie and believe the answers to their problems lie in dumping their spouses and hitting an ashram.
Of course, it’s not Gilbert’s fault if they do. She wrote about her personal choices and experiences, and I don’t recall her saying anywhere in the book that other people should follow in her footsteps. It will be interesting to see, however, if she has anything to say to the women who believe she’s let them down.