Tuesday, August 17, 2010

eat pray what?


I went to see Eat, Pray, Love last night....

I did not really enjoy the book, it was ok, and thought I would try the movie. It was pleasant, the locales were beautiful, the actors lovely but the turmoils of Liz again left me flat.

I guess part of what bothered me was how self absorbed her character was. Her life was not really that bad in the big scheme of things, she left her husband and then she left her lover on her terms, she was not broke, she had no health issues, nobody depending on her, no one to please but herself. Many women would probably happily change places with her at her lowest point....

.... there are hundreds of women I am sure, who would love to take off and go traveling to "find themselves" given the opportunity but have no money, are looking after kids, parents, have job commitments, health problems and are trapped by these constraints. Liz had nothing to hold her back and someone offering to pay her to go "out there" I don't begrudge her the adventure at all. I just don't understand what people find so brave and courageous about Liz leaving to find herself when there were no obstacles to stop her and lots to gain from it. That would be a sensible thing.

I think the braver and riskier thing would have been to stay and work things out for herself. Not as much fun, more difficult, and certainly not as interesting as travel. "Finding yourself" in your own surroundings is a lot harder. I doubt people would been as interested in her struggle had she stayed. The exotic places and people make this book. I don't get why so many people think that Liz's leaving was such a hard choice and idolize her for it.

Most people I know with nothing to hold them back would absolutely leave and travel to find themselves if offered a ticket and time and money to write about it. I certainly would. That's practical and a no brainer, not amazing and brave. That's my beef. I'm not saying she shouldn't have gone, I would have. Her trip WAS amazing and interesting. It is idolization of Liz and her choice that bothers me.

I love the idea of finding yourself. I love the idea of travel, I adore travel..... one always grows and sometimes gets uncomfortable and meets new people and discovers other ways of doing things and just being. I dunno, this fuss about the personal odyssey of Liz's really baffled me, not the travels, they were fun to read about, just all the massive hooplaa about it.

Maybe I am jealous. Who doesn't have things they would like to run from, areas of personna they would like to explore, open tracts of time to fill with personal adventures and not have to worry about someone else. Not mention have it all paid for? What was the big deal? Why was her decision to escape so amazing?

I think that's what I don't get. Countless women given the same opportunities would do a trip like that in a heartbeat. What am I missing? This book was a huge sensation, why? It seems to be polarizing women because some love it and other's don't. We lived vicariously through her, exotic locations and wonderful experiences and people along the way. Was she living out our fantasies? What was it that spoke to you?

31 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I agree with you, Shelagh. I really don't see what all the fuss is about.

Anne Chisholm said...

I agree. Did not even finish the book. Kept thinking "Oh get over it and get on with your life"

Snap said...

I haven't finished the book yet. I put off reading it because I don't like *self-help* books especially if they have been on Oprah! So far, I enjoy her sense of humor. I've learned a few things -- where the Italian language comes from.... Now reading about India and have enjoyed the interchanges with Richard. I haven't approached it from *someone seeking to find themselves*. She's obviously spoiled (get over yourself!!!!!). I'm just enjoying the travel.....

Karen said...

I tried to read the book because it came so highly praised... couldn't get through the second half... I feel exactly as you do, you put it the best in this post. I'm not going to bother with the movie, although I do love the cast.

This is one of those "great ones" that I totaly don't get.

Natalie Joan said...

I only read the book after a friend of mine commented that I am doing an "Eat. Pray. Love." for the rest of us: scrimped and saved to send myself on a nine week escape and adventure in Africa. Not to find myself so much as to live out a dream, and learn some things in the process.(The same friend keeps refering to my journey as Eat, Bicker, Love.)
I bought the book for airplane reading when I left. Like the rest of you I couldn't get past the feeling of "what makes your life so muc harder than anyone else's?" But then it is hard to judge if you aren't living it.
Couldn't help but feel she didn't really learn anything. Her problems started with men, but rather than solving them on her own, she solved them by finding another man.

Muse, Rania said...

I'm so glad to read this post. I am almost finished the book (although I already know the ending) and I cannot like the lead, Liz. She is completely selfish and self-absorbed. I guess I spend so much time in the non-profit sector and in fields that involve helping others that I cannot relate to someone who has everything and just creates problems which exist only in her head. She's healthy, doesn't have the responsibility of taking care of children, hasn't lost a child, hasn't lived through war, battled a disease, or survived a catastrophe. She chose to have an affair and then leave her marriage. I have plans to see the movie with friends this week, and I'm hoping Julia Roberts makes her likable in some way, but from your review, it appears that I probably won't.
Rania in Vancouver

aliceinparis said...

It is so interesting to read everybody's take on this. I did enjoy some of the stories and interactions for sure. Travelling always brings us new experience. I guess I just did not relate to Liz.

Natalie Joan, I've been enjoying your tales and pictures of Africa!

Marilyn said...

pal, i am right there with you on everything you wrote. so glad you posted this. i've found myself the past few years wondering if it's a generational thing...because i've noticed that many younger women positively ADORE Liz Gilbert and her book and every word she utters. the book didn't resonate for me either, and truthfully, she lost me right in the beginning...because i didn't feel her pain (re her divorce). she seemed utterly self-absorbed and the drama she was creating seemed so disproportionate to her circumstances. i honestly don't feel it's about jealousy...at least for me...because that means i'd have to actually be FEELING it. and truth be told, she leaves me BLANK.

Eco Yogini said...

yep, felt the same Shelagh.
Like others, I also was extremely disappointed with the ending. All this "who needs men? I'm going to love myself first and heal myself" and then

and then her "happily ever after" all has to do with a relationship.

kinda like Sex in the City- the entire series was thematic around women being happy regardless or despite men... and in the end they all end up with someone.

anyhoo, i also could not relate. :)

Christina said...

hi friend!
i just could not get through that book. it just wasn't for me. : (
i am happy some like it though. : )
xoxo

lifeofmytime said...

I have to say I enjoyed the book. I did read it just before a trip to Rome, so for me the travel was the biggest attraction.

But that said... yes, she was self-centred, and yes, her problems were really not all that terrible. But don't we all have those moments where we put way too much emphasis on problems that are insignificant in the grand scheme of things? Don't we all get a little self-absorbed sometimes?

Maybe I enjoyed reading it, because she was able to do something I never could - take a year off to explore the world (and herself). I agree that staying would be the more difficult and rational choice - and she should have been able to figure out her life had she stayed. But if you had the same opportunity under the same circumstances, wouldn't you go? I would.

I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. It is simply entertainment for me though - not a deep, life-altering experience.

aliceinparis said...

lifeofmytime, I did enjoy watching the movie, it was pretty and provided a dose of escapism. It was not one I would see again.
and yes, I absolutely would take off and travel given that opportunity. What eludes me about all this is why people thought what she had done was so amazing and brave. That I don't understand.

lifeofmytime said...

Oh yes - I completely agree with you. What she did was not amazing or brave. She ran away. Nothing brave about that :)

Anonymous said...

Wow - I thought I was the only one who felt this way!! Everyone I know who has read the book just gushes about it. THere are many many books on travel and finding oneself that I would rank WAY above this one. Glad to know there are some like minded folks out there. Next....

Janet said...

I felt the same way as you. She was too whiny for me, too "poor me". I haven't seen the movie yet, but I expect it to be better than the book since it won't go on and on and on ;-)

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

I agree with you. I thought the book was ho-hum! And now I don't get all the hoop-la about the movie. I won't bother with the theatre but probably wait to see it on DVD.

Tvor said...

As i mentioned on Live Journal, most of these flavour of the month books usually let me down. I much preferred Under the Tuscan Sun

Suzie Ridler said...

I think it is sad that we can not support a woman who did something really big just for herself. If a man did it I bet we would not be so hard on him but for a woman to venture the world, she is selfish. That said, I did not enjoy the writing of the book but I have not enjoyed a book in a long, long time. I will go see the movie I hope and I do look forward to her foodie adventures in particular.

Gifted Typist said...

Here's a few tweets and thoughts on the subject:
Eat, Pray, Gag me with a Rototiller
Eat, Pray, Leave me alone
Eat, Pray that Elizabeth Gilbert never writes and eating and praying again.

Anne Yarbrough said...

Ha! I totally, totally agree. One night I googled hate+eat pray love and discovered that I was not alone! And now you further restore my faith in the wisdom of reasonable girls everywhere. I thought this was the most self-absorbed , unlikable person ever: giggling and chattering her way through an ashram, barging into that poor old man's life in Bali (not to mention the woman she decided to "help" there). Talk about your quintessential Ugly American. I was depressed for days after I read this book. Anyway, thanks Shelagh, for starting up this conversation. I love Julia Roberts, but think I'll be skipping this one.

Andrea on Third Street said...

Well, I'm somewhat relieved. A few people I know read this book and recomended it to me - but I just couldn't feel it. When I read the back I thought it sounded too whimsical for my tastes. Likewise, I have no desire to see this movie.

The Words Crafter said...

Yay for someone who isn't crazy about the movie/book. I haven't read the book (don't intend to) nor have I seen the movie (don't intend to). I totally agree with everything you say!

Sara said...

I didn't like the book at all - I thought it was boring - I don't think she knows what having it hard is about...

Am not going to bother with the movie...

Lynn @ The Next Chapter said...

I have been trying to read the book for over a month now. It took me that long to get through "Italy." Just couldn't get in to it at all. Glad there are others who feel the same way.

I will still see the movie though! :)

Muse, Rania said...

In all fairness, I do have to say that I like Gilbert's writing style... it sucks me right in! I just don't side with her on the content.
Rania

Dolores said...

Well, well. Thank you ladies. I thought (just for a little while) about borrowing the book from the library but now I will use my time reading something much better.

Micheline said...

I was going to leave a comment but then I wasn't because so many people have already expressed exactly what I was thinking. But here I am back to commenting. For a very long time I felt like an outcast for not liking the book. I didn't spend a lot of time putting it into words because I didn't think many people would listen. Because of that, it never felt like the book had closure. But the way you describe the book and its flaws reflect my thoughts perfectly and now the book has the best ending I could have hoped for. Now I can move on to something better.

michelle said...

I took the book and the movie for what they were a book and a movie. I agree that there are many worse off and many who would trade places with her. For me, I read books and see movies to escape the less stellar parts or boring parts of my life. I guess I looked at it like, "WOW what fun! Wouldn't it be a great (fantasty) to go off and do these things for a year." I don't know, I tend to be very literal but for this book and movie I just enjoed it for the entertainment.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I read the book ( from the public library) because of the hype, but felt like you did Shelagh, that the author was very self absorbed and her "adventures" were very self indulgent. I don't think I'll see the movie.

Dreamwriter said...

It is about having the courage to step outside of the *Righteousness* and *Demands* of being a woman and venturing out for what you want and who you truly are! It is not about money or travel or anything..this was simply LIZ's story and how she took a leap of faith.

It doesn't matter if your leap of faith is venturing out just to be alone, to be unmarried, to live a simple life by helping others, living as a waitress scratching change together - the key message is don't cut yourself short in this life simply by pleasing society and others.

It is about being happy from within, being true to who you are NOT about traveling and having money to do what you want!

aliceinparis said...

Thanks Dreamcatcher, so interesting to hear everybody's thoughts on this.
For me, it was not about about what "women" should or should not do. The *Righteousness* and *Demands* of being a woman did not enter into it for me. I would feel the same about this story if it was a male writing it and who took off to find himself.

Maybe the key message IS don't cut yourself short in this life simply by pleasing society and others,it is about being happy from within, being true to who you are.

But that is so much easier said than done....not as simple as this movie makes it seem. People have emotional ties, financial constraints, health connstraints, personal responsibilities that have nothing to do with the expectations of society and are often not even choices that person has made or would want to make. Doing what we want and being true to ourselves is the dream but sometimes life has a way of changing things.

I don't think Liz took a leap of faith. She was tired of her life. She was offered a way out of it and money to write and she took it. I would too.