Elizabeth is in her thirties, settled in a large house with a husband who wants a family. But she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a rebound fling later, Elizabeth emerges battered yet determined to find what she’s been missing.
So begins her quest. In Rome, she indulges herself and gains nearly two stone. In India, she finds enlightenment through scrubbing temple floors. Finally, in Bali, a toothless medicine man reveals a new path to peace, leaving her ready to love again.
After a month of not allowing myself to read because of writing, this happened to be the first book I read. And even though I was hankering to read a book, it wasn’t because I wanted to read, but because of book club. Yet I was still grateful to be able to read no matter what it was because in all honesty this would not be a book I would read on my own. I admit I have been curious because of all the rage when it comes to this book and the movie, but that would not have been enough to push me to read it.
I was going to do the same song and dance as a lot of disgruntled readers, but if you just go to the GoodReads page you can see a lot there already saying how she is hard to relate to and a spoiled woman who has had a paid self discovery.
Yes I was bored myself (at one point I found myself thinking about rearranging my bookshelves and in what order I was going to put my books while I was reading), yes I found it hard to relate and be engaged, yes this is not a cathartic journey, but there’s so many people saying that so I’m going to share what else I interpreted from it.
Italy: If you’re expecting descriptions of beautiful art and beautiful buildings (even when she does describe things in detail it’s with metaphor and not very good metaphor. Sorry, but it’s not and it’s definitely not beautiful metaphors) then forget about it because this is the pleasure part, this is the part where she overindulges and her overindulgence is just food.
A lot of people are saying in reviews and blogs that it’s exhausting and spoiled, but think of it this way; this woman has gone from a structured, self disciplined life full of obligation. Yes we all have obligations and yes we all have responsibilities, but it also sounds like she was not only being suffocated by it, but she was in a situation where she didn’t want to be. Namely married and expected to have children. No one should feel they have to be in a marriage/certain relationships and that they’re to have children if they aren’t right with it. So Italy is the overindulgence because she is breaking free from restrictive confines.
India: This is the spiritual part, but if you ask me the whole book is the spiritual and bid for new freedoms part so really it’s just the whole book. Lets say for arguments sake this is only the spiritual part anyway. I’ve read a lot of reviews that she is whinging and going on about it (and I admit it can even get a little too much), but if you’ve ever been on a spiritual journey and had to spend a lot of time in silence with yourself it’s bound to be pretty emotional especially if you’ve never spent that much time in silence with yourself.
A lot of emotions come out during meditation, more so with strict meditation. It’s hard when you have gotten to know yourself so I am guessing it’s even worse when you haven’t been given the chance before. Also by this point if you were expecting something else than her internal emotional struggles and unhappiness then what synopsis did you read? Because this might be a book of self absorption, but it’s this woman’s internal struggle, not external.
Bali: This is where I get a bit lost because she was going to join the two first steps, pleasure and spirituality, to learn to balance the two. The thing is I don’t completely see it because really by that point she was there anyway and there wasn’t much going on. She wasn’t really working hard at anything, the medicine man wasn’t teaching her anything, and really she just finally got laid (as if you couldn’t see that coming) so mostly Bali was this bit of fluff at the end.
The thing is with Bali is I finally started to enjoy it in parts because there was more interaction with people outside of her. I know there is interaction with people in the first two parts, but it’s more so in Bali and actually got a laugh out of it at some points. I even started to find it engaging and developed a slight willingness to read (by the second part of the book I was taking breaks from reading because of the book every few minutes to every fifteen), but unfortunately it wasn’t until there was a total of 40 pages left.
The reading for me was boring, I was really grateful she set it up as three parts because the amount of relief at the end of each section was tantamount, I couldn’t relate to her or her journey, there wasn’t any engagement for me with her or her surroundings, but at the same time she does have a sense of humour which she conveys at times and it is a pretty easy book to read seeing as I read it in two days even with the breaks.
If you’re looking for something that is cathartic, engages you with the surrounding environment, and introduces you to a lot of interesting characters then this book is not for you. However if you want to read about a woman’s internal struggle after divorce then this book might be good for you and you might even find it cathartic if you’ve been divorced. I can’t say because I have never been married or divorced and maybe that would have made a difference for my reading experience. Maybe.
- Demographic: Divorced Women I’d say would be best
- Genre: Memoir
- Reminds Me Of: Nothing I have read or seen because this is the sort of story I avoid.
- Rating Out of Five: 2 because it bored me, no other reason.
- Challenges: A book club read