Eat, Pray, Love

When I am ill, one of my favourite things is to be read to. It has been years since I have found someone who will do this for me, and no one ever does it quite so well as I remember my dad reading the Hobbit when we were all home with chicken pox as kids. These days, I download audiobooks from iTunes and in recent years I’ve gone through a great deal of Agatha Christie, listened to Five Children and It, Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales and other childhood favourites. This weekend, I caved and downloaded Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love – a book I had seen in Waterstones and turned my nose up at. I always judge a book by its cover, stubbornly avoiding anything that looks like it’s deliberately marketed at those most disgusting of creatures; women. I also avoid any book that is currently in the cinema, hating to be seen to jump on a bandwagon of any kind. But, oh, I think this book may be changing my life.
A memoir about a 30-something woman, who finds herself crying in a heap on her bathroom floor one night, begging God to rescue her… to tell her what to do – it speaks to me. And yes, so she’s American, and God tells her, eventually, that she probably should leave her husband and be happy, but something in it really strikes a chord.
I haven’t finished listening to it. As I write, she is only partway through the first leg of her life-changing journey – consuming all the pleasure of Italian food and sunshine – but already she has me so totally gripped with her total understanding of what it’s like to feel like life is running away without you, to be on anti-depressants when you worry they’ll kill your creativity, to feel stifled in a world where suddenly everyone is moving to the suburbs and having babies…
She writes about the time when she realises that, even in Italy, the old fears come back: “ They flank me – Depression on my left, loneliness on my right. They don’t need to show their badges. I know these guys very well. …then they frisk me. They empty my pockets of any joy I had been carrying there. Depression even confiscates my identity; but he always does that”. And I know that feeling, and it’s as if I’ve found a friend who understands.
I hate that the book is a bestseller, when I want it to be mine and mine alone. I hate that they’ve made it into a film, which will no doubt rip it of all that’s good and leave only the story, which is secondary to the real action of this book. I hate that I like a book that so many people will claim has changed their lives. But there it is. It has.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s