In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
As someone who is in need a bit of spiritual guidance and a little re-centering, I found that I could really relate to the disconnection Elizabeth Gilbert works through in this book. Although I didn’t like some of the ways she describes her recounts of some of the people she encountered in the three countries she travels too—which is to be expected since it is in first person narrative—this is one of my favorite self-help book.
Now, this isn’t actually intended to be a self-help book. In fact, it’s a memoir/autobiography book, but the way in which Elizabeth recounts her life and personal boughts with sadness, depression, loneliness, aloft and disconnection with the world is something transcendedly borderless and profound. I have never broken down for the same reasons she did at the end of her marriage or at the end of her relationship before her journey, but the thoughts, fears, anxiety and cry fests were all recognizable and familiar.
I also enjoyed the way that Elizabeth incorporated skepticism, a fluid perspective, and at times a philosophical approach with the narrative because it didn’t feel preachy or telling. As I was reading this book it felt more like an open conversation with someone as she was putting the pieces of herself back together. First, by cutting loose the strings of her past and a heavy bag of worry by living in Italy. Second, by discovering how to ground her heart and mind with her spirit and then to the world around her in India. And third, by connecting the pieces of herself that she’s discovered during the journey with the new life that lay out before her since her divorce and the unhappiness she was consumed with back in New York during her stay in Indonesia.
I would love to be able to travel all over the world for a chance to reconnect with my “true self,” but alas, that’s not economically possible for me so I was happy to live vicariously through Elizabeth during her journey and I would be happy to do it all over again. I’m adding this book to my re-reads list. ^__^
Thanks so much for reading. This book was one of my 2016 reading challenge books. Check back here to see the others I read in April ^__^
Until next time,