7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Gap Yah for Grown-Ups,
This review is from: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything (Paperback)
As a student of Italian, Elizabeth Gilbert has taught me a lot of new useful Italian phrases. That said, this is all she has taught me during the course of what I can quite honestly say is one of the most solipsistic, self-indulgent, over-hyped memoirs I have ever read; a book which myself and a good friend laughed our way through during the course of a week in Florence.
Firstly, Gilbert makes some truly staggering statements. At one point she says that "36 percent of Italian children have an allergy to the gluten needed to make pasta, pizza and bread, so there goes Italian culture". For Gilbert, the entire of Italian culture from the fall of the Roman empire to now seems to boil down to one word: PIZZA. This assertion only accompanies other, equally ridiculous, cultural stereotypes played out throughout the memoir. Moreover, her sojourn in Italy - in being centred on food - seems to miss the focus of much of the beauty that country has to offer. In fact, she quits her Italian language classes because they are interfering with the Elizabeth Gilbert School of Italian, i.e. Operation Carbs.
Gilbert, the queen of sweeping generalisations, charactrises Sicily as a third world country ("dreadful poverty" etc. etc.), compares her own emotional plight to life in a Russian Gulag and seems to view the island of Bali as some sort of majestical spiritual paradise.
In parts Eat, Pray, Love reads more like a work of fiction than a memoir. Many of the 'characters' Gilbert encounters are one-dimensional and riddled with stereotypes. Furthermore, whilst surely everyone understands that divorce must be a traumatic experience, I personally feel there isn't quite such a need to harp on about it for a few lines every second page, especially when said divorce seems to arise from nothing more than ennui, leading to my main gripe about this book - its repetitive nature. Section Two, India, appears to make up a series of confused and obscure spiritual ramblings which are neither remotely interesting nor remotely enlightening. Overall, this book is about commitment issues, whether religious or romantic.
I would urge people not to bother picking up this book. It reminds me, rather ironically, of the famous spoof video about a certain class of young person going on their 'Gap Yah' (gap year); a video which sends up western ideas of a "political, social and cultural exchange" which is "sooooo enlightening, darling".