Hmm … a friend on Facebook posts about going to dinner at Christ Church in Oxford, England, where Harry Potter scenes were filmed. I, on the other hand, take a Facebook quiz about which Harry Potter character I am, although the typos and misspellings in those quizzes drive me so crazy that I WANT TO MAKE A QUIZ ABOUT WHY CAN’T YOU PEOPLE SPELL AND PUT APOSTROPHES IN THE RIGHT PLACES???? And then that puts me in such a contrary mood that I think I’ll write about other things that make me crazy — things that other people absolutely adore … such as the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Many, many friends whose opinions I respect and recommendations I follow love this book. Love, love, love it. They think it’s a powerfully female story about one woman’s journey to discover and accept who she is. They kind of get all starry-eyed when they talk about it. And listen, I’m all for everybody having their own opinions and liking what they like for their own reasons. So with all due respect to everybody who puts this book in the you-gotta-read-this pile, I think that instead of a classic, it actually is a powerfully narcissistic story about one woman’s self-indulgent justifications and her ability to come up with something that validated her $200,000 book advance. I despise books in which everybody loves the narrator/main character and thinks the narrator/main character is the best thing since sliced white bread for no discernible reason whatsoever. Such as in this book. Such as in the fan club that Ms. Gilbert gathers around her everywhere she goes with no effort on her part. Such as everyone who meets her falls in love with her and wants to do things for her. Or so she says, as she journeys around the world and dabbles in other cultures to erase the pain of a failed marriage and love affair. Look, when faced with broken relationships, most of the rest of us women learn about our submerged talents and unknown strengths and authentic selves by going to work and getting the kids ready for school and fixing the leaky toilet every day on our own all by ourselves. I’m just saying.
And which Harry Potter character am I? Harry! According to the quiz (corrected for spelling and grammar), I’m “destined to do great things and highly ambitious. Sometimes, in order to go after your dreams, you seem to disregard rules — there is a slight haze (?) in your sense of right or wrong but in the end, you’re a good person.” Phew! That’s a relief.
I always enjoy getting your take on books, especially books I will never read.
When Oprah raved about this book, like the faithful Oprah fan I am I ran out and read it. And only liked the part where Ms. Gilbert was in Italy. I read, but disliked, the remainder of the book and told myself I would never get that time back in my life. I totally agree with you. What in the world was the fuss all about Eat, Pray, Love.
Excellent post! Many many women fell for the book hook, line and sinker!
I am so going to have to run out and buy this book now!
I’ve never heard of the book, but I’m NOT an Oprah fan. Just remember, she raved and raved over A Million Little Pieces, too.
Thanks for the review, Cathy. Now I can avoid it if someone recommends it.
And here I thought I was the ONLY one who thought Elizabeth Gilbert was a spoiled brat, full of self-pity when she had so much more than most. This was one of our book club selections, and I was totally blown away by the dewy-eyed comments about how much insight the other members received from reading this book. I admit the author strings words together well in a compelling manner, but that’s about all the book has going for it.
I recently purchased Olive Kitteridge on your recommendation and I cringed when I saw Eat, Pray, Love posted. I thought that if you were going to gush over that book, I would try to return Olive Kitteridge since our tastes must be quite different. I was delighted to read the post.
I agree I only like the Italy part too. The rest was so painfully boring to read. But it was all the rave, I just didn’t get it or like it.
Oh, Cathy, you’re just jealous ’cause she got such a big advance. I happened to love the book, mostly because it inspired me to start taking yoga seriously. Plus, I like a good honest whine once in a while. It makes me feel so mentally healthy!
FYI it is Elizabeth Gilbert not Elizabeth George. I wonder how much of the reaction against the EPL book is just because of the popularity of the book? I know I sometimes react in that manner to popular things, facebook for example. I give Gilbert credit for starting over after a messy divorce that left her broke in more than a financial way. I am sure you have a story just as compelling.
I am still laughing at your rant. I have friends who loved, loved love this book, I was far more ambivalent and gave up. I think there are so many other more worthwhile books about that kind of theme out there! There’s “Honor Yourself,” for example, by Patricia Spadaro. Hers is more about figuring out the different “myths” that hold you back and then turn them into the power of personal transformation. “EPL” is more about someone else’s adventures, instead of creating your own (inner) journey. If you want to give it a look, you can read excerpts.
Oh, thank you so much, Terry, for noticing my error. This is why I really shouldn’t be turned loose to write on my own without an editor. And I had the correct name right in front of me! I so appreciate you taking the time to help me out — would you please do that for me every day???
Thank you all for adding to the discussion — love reading all your comments and insights.
I fully agree with you, Cathy. In fact, at the risk of being accused of brazen self-promotion, I would suggest a better book about a failed relationship that manages to heal itself against almost insurmountable odds: “Getting Enough,” published by Strategic Book Publishing. For more information, kindly access this website: http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/GettingEnough.html.
Keep up your excellent work, Cathy!