This month's book club pick was "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Many of the ladies from our group choose books they've already read as a way of screening their choices. I, on the other hand, choose to gamble and pick things I've never read before but that have come recommended from trusted sources.
My friend Jodie recommended this book to me a couple years ago and I just hadn't gotten around to it yet. Then there were all those advertisements for the Julia Roberts movie everywhere I went and knowing that the book begins in Italy and that I could tie in my feast made this a somewhat obvious choice for me.
To my chagrin, the book club ladies all began reading the pick before I even started it and the reports started coming in that they hated it! Oops! I felt bad for putting them through an unpleasant reading experience and my desire to pick the book up myself faded more with each passing day.
Finally with less than 24 hours to go before our meeting, I decided I absolutely had to read my own choice for fear of being kicked right out of the book club altogether! Despite the dread I now felt for this book, I was shocked to find that I actually really really enjoyed it. I kept waiting to get to the part where I would change my mind, but I was enthralled with pretty much the entire book. My only regret now is that I wish I would have started it sooner so I could have read it at a much more relaxed pace.
What I finally determined is that the ladies from my club had likely gone into this book expecting a work of fiction with a specific plot–which is exactly what we usually read. I had unknowingly chosen what I consider to be a travel book. This is not a book with a story you can get lost in, this is a loving and detailed description of life in Italy, India, and Indonesia told from the viewpoint of a woman going through a period of intense grief and mourning from a failed marriage. She seeks solace and strength by immersing herself in three very different cultures over the course of a year.
Having lived in Italy myself, I recognized shared experiences with the author. She describes exchanging idioms with her english-speaking Italian friend. This was one of my favorite things to do with my friend Moira during my stay. The language of a people says so much about their culture and what they value. I found sharing these insights with Moira to be completely fascinating and eye-opening.
While I would not describe this book as a page-turner, I felt it was definitely worth my time in reading it. The trick is just in knowing what to expect out of it to avoid disappointment. I confess I have no idea how they made a movie out of this book, but I'm dying to find out!