My first introduction to this book was several years ago. F and I were at a friend's place, and she gave us the now-cliched, "It changed my life." F looked at it askance--she already knew about this book. I've since heard plenty about it from F, and also read about it and its author. I haven't yet read the book itself, because I feel I know enough about it to know that I do not want to.
Stupid fucking movie, stupid fucking book club, goddamn F for making me read it!
Here's what I know going into it:
It's about a woman who ditches her husband in a manner I don't like.
She gets a massive stipend from her publisher to fund this trip. (That's the only part that makes me jealous.)
She goes to amazing places and doesn't really make the most of her time there.
She is so naive that she lets herself get taken in by people who are obviously taking advantage of her.
After a journey begun by freeing herself from a man, she finds a man.
She comes home, writes a book, touts it as the amazing journey of how she found herself, and everyone buys her snake oil.
What, me, bitter?
But, I'm going to put all that aside. Let me purge myself of all bitterness toward Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm going to go into this reading with an open mind. Or try to.
Thanks to the magic of the Kindle app for Android, I've now read through part 8 of EPL.
I am neither impressed nor repulsed. I don't know how interested I am. Perhaps it is because this memoir is about such personal things, but it feels very self-conscious. Gilbert is wholly aware of her own voice, I can't get Gilbert-the-narrator out of the way of Liz-the-character.
The opener explains the structure of the book, which is divided equally into sections. But we're in the Eat section and, 8 parts in, only 1 has had to do with Italy, and 1 about learning Italian. No food. The rest is backstory. I'm nitpicking.
it sounds like Gilbert is a thoroughly neurotic person. It's good of her to keep the intimate details of her marriage and rebound relationship out of this book, for the privacy of the men. It does leave me wondering what happened. One doesn't turn into a weeping, quaking ball of misery overnight. Either these men destroyed her (clearly insufficient) sense of self, or she's neurotic.
Interestingly, she describes her first marriage in a way similar to The Unnamed Problem--the Housewife's Lament. She entered this marriage under the assumption that she would, at some point, have kids and become a suburban mommy. Now she's on the brink, and she desperately does not want to. Malaise sets in, depression, the feeling of being trapped.
I still don't know why she didn't TALK to her husband about it. The details are obscured deliberately, but you would think that an issue like this would get some mention. She doesn't want kids, he does, myriad other difficulties exist, end of marriage. Instead, we're told that hubby makes divorce difficult, but are given no possible motives.
There is NO doubt in my mind that middle class is an inadequate term for her. We live in an upper-middle class area, and no one I know keeps a McMansion AND a NY apartment AND 8 phone lines (?!), etc.