Having heard that the movie had become one of my favorites, my friend Caroline recommended the book to me. I was skeptical about the novel at first, since I did not want to hear a woman talk about her life for 300 pages. However, my feelings changed as soon as I began reading, for the novel is actually a neverending chain of thoughts. The novel moves from one experience to the next, always depicting them with minute details. Within each paragraph, there’s not only great description, but also really long tangents that allow you to get a better understanding of the author’s feelings and thoughts.
The book and the novel differ greatly. The novel is a chronological mess, while the movie, although chronologically faulty, provides a better timeline for the audience. Nonetheless, both works of art (the novel and the movie) successfully link you to the main character. She is easy to identify with, especially since the novel is actually a spiritual tale, or the tale of a spiritual journey. Maybe it’s hard to understand why I would relate to a book that talks about “Hinduism and meditation”, when I believe in “Christianity”; the truth is that most of us have gone on spiritual journeys of some sort. Usually, although the subject we search for varies, the process of transformation remains invariable. One of the things that Liz Gilbert makes an emphasis on is our human need to look for comfort in something greater when we’ve gone through a painful situation. In the author’s case, there was not one painful situation, but a combination of many catastrophes. Her book, although never explicitely says it, presents the idea of hitting rock bottom; many of us have been there, and it is when we see no man-workable solution that we seek for divine guidance. The journey that the novel depicts, takes us from suffering, and a search for hope and love, to lessons on how to enjoy life at its fullest -keeping a balance on how to please oneself, while also seeking the best for those around us.
There are many ways in which I identified with this book. For instance, the author talks about crying on bathroom floors; I must confess, I’ve done the same and still do it when life makes wrong turns. The author talks about the importance of writing in her search for God; my most intimate moments of prayer have happened through writing. She talks about her love for food; can’t judge her! All I do when I come back home is munch on anything that looks edible. The book talks about our longing as human beings, and her personal story is a reminder that we are all joined our by spiritual searches.
I’m glad Caroline told me about this book. I can see how she could have related to it; and I can also see that just as our kinship with the novel is based on a search, our friendship has also sprouted from long, vulnerable talks about our spiritual journeys. This was a book definitely worth reading.
*While reading the novel, these were some quotes I found memorable; sometimes even funny. Some of the things the author says are things that I can relate to, for I have heard the same thoughts wandering through my mind before.
“‘Do you have friends in Rome?’ and I would just shake my head no, thinking to myself, But I will. Mostly, you meet your friends when traveling by accident, like by sitting next to them on a train, or in a restaurant, or in a holding cell” (42)
“And here recommences my strangest and most secret conversation. Here in this most private notebook, is where I talk to myself. I talk to that same voice I met that night on my bathroom floor when I first prayed to God in tears for help” (53)
“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight” (115)
“There’s a reason they call God a presence –because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time” (132)
“I wake up crying and shaking. I don’t want to disturb my roommates, so I go hide in the bathroom. The bathroom, always the bathroom!… Oh, cold world -I have grown so weary of you and all your horrible bathrooms” (147)
“I liked having him nearby, opening doors for me, complementing me, calling me ‘darling.’ Then again, I noticed that he called everyone ‘darling’ -even the hairy male bartender. Still, the attention was nice…” (267)