Eat, Pray, Love is a book that comes highly recommended - from places as diverse as The Guardian to Julia Roberts. It is funny in that self-deprecating way that so instantly endears the writer to you. After a traumatic divorce and a love affair gone awry, she talks about her experiences over the course of a year as she visits Italy, India and Indonesia - staying 4 months at each place - in an effort to get her life in order. It is a year of self-analysis and healing that she takes up with missionary zeal.
As you follow her on this journey, you laugh aloud every so often as she wisecracks about everything - from the moment she starts praying ("like,.........to God") in sheer misery, to the outcomes of her vow of celibacy for this period (where she accepts that choosing to visit Rome is dangerusly at odds with being celibate).
While she reports her grief with the same funniness as she does everything else, you cant help but empathise with this girl for her bring-it-on attitude to life. Her relentless search for happiness is what has definitely found an echo with most women today - considering that this book is an international best seller and is all set to be made into a movie starring Julia Roberts.
Her stint in Rome, where she learns Italian and diligently steers clear of Italian men, is still an exercise in pleasure as she feasts on pasta and pizza and wonders along with her friends as to why people even bother to cook or eat anywhere else in the world - Italian cuisine is that yummy.
After eating her way out of her wardrobe in four months, Liz proceeds to gain spiritual insight in where-else-but-India. Spending the whole of the four months in her Guru's ashram, she not only benefits immensely from this self-imposed discipline, she keeps you, the reader as much in splits as she did in Rome. From here she proceeds to Ubud in Indonesia to meet a toothless medicine man who had predicted that she would be back to meet him and that she would have put her unhappiness behind her. This is where she fulfills the last verb/noun of her book's title. Ya, She finds love. The happily ever after ending thus finds our heroine at ease in life finally. The thing is, she does all this with an attitude that is, at the same time,determined and accepting.
Like a Sir Galahead of yore, Liz slaughters her own demons and wins the hand of the ....err, crown prince.
The book has its share of new age spiritual stuff that may have been dismissed as blah had it not been so gently shared by the writer. There is a genuineness to the tale that goes beyond the fact that it is a real life experience. It is somewhat similar to the Dalai Lama's stance on Tibetan Buddhism - you really dont need to change your religion and get called something else - if there is something that appeals to you, by all means feel free to use it. Similarly, you may or may not share her beliefs, but there will be much that could lead you to introspect.
And while most of us would definitely find her behaviour radical, it is fair to think that we would love to be able to do all that. March to a different drummer :)