In the opening pages of her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert is in her mid-thirties living in the suburbs of New York. She has a successful writing career, but is unhappily married and suffering from depression. What follows is an account of Ms. Gilbert's year as a newly divorced woman, traveling through Italy, India, and Bali in search of pleasure, spiritual fulfillment, and, ultimately, balance.
I expected to love this book. I really wanted to like it. What's not to love. Food? Mmm. Spirituality? Amen. And balance? That's the key to everything, isn't it? You can imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself often apathetic to her journey.
It wasn't because of the writing. Ms. Gilbert is more then well equipped in the language department to relate her experiences. At times I felt the narrative could have been tighter but, for the most part, it was an excellent read.( In fact, some of her lines are downright bladder busters. I won't spoil them for you by sharing them here.) What was lacking was tension. To recap: it is the story of a successful, divorced woman with no kids, being paid to travel the world to write a book about her experiences. Yes, she had inner demons, but I felt most were tamed by the time she left India and that a real lesson in balance would have been to go back her normal life (complete with deadlines and an ex-husband) and achieve it there. The story ends, however, after a leisurely, yet culturally enlightening stay in Bally. Nice, peaceful, but climactic, it is not.
That's the thing with memoir: it needs to be true. There is no tweaking the truth for tension. It is what it is. As this book is a New York Times bestseller, there are plenty of readers who would disagree with me. I, for one, would love a post-script. How did the balance go one year later, Liz?