Oh, how I hate this book.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love was a massive literary sensation when it arrived on the scene in 2006. Millions of copies were sold, a movie starring Julia Roberts is scheduled for release this fall and it seems that just about every woman I know has read and loved or wants to read this book.*

A copy landed in my lap earlier this week via book trade with a coworker. I was hesitant at first as I always am with huge cultural phenomena and tend to avoid anything that resembles chick lit. (My few forays into the genre irritated the hell out of me, but that’s just me.) But my coworker was just gushing about it so I thought I’d give it a go.

Thirty pages in, I loathe it. I can’t stand this woman.

She’s obnoxious, neurotic and from what I can see, undeserving of the amazing experiences she has had. I felt pity for her in the first, oh, 10 pages. After that, however, I found myself resentful and annoyed by her. I have yet to find a redeeming quality in the protagonist/author. I liken it to my husband’s dislike of What Not To Wear: he can’t believe that some people are being rewarded for such intentionally poor choices. (Granted, he’s not exactly the target audience for the show and I kind of love it. OK, I totally love it.)

I suspect that if she hadn’t written it as a memoir, I’d like this book more. To me, there is something very grating about a woman who appears to be totally incapable of maintaining an adult relationship after her divorce and who behaves like she’s the only person who has ever HAD a messy divorce. She behaves like a sullen, moody teenager instead of the grown, successful book writer that she purports to be. Everyone deserves a break and a kind word, especially during troubled times; but, Gilbert’s problems pale greatly in comparison to, say, world hunger, poverty, child abuse, civil wars…She even claims the tragedy of 9/11 as a personal part of her tragic life. She did not lose anyone in these attacks. She was not in or near the buildings that collapsed. In no way am I mocking or belittling New Yorkers: were this to happen in my home town, it would be terribly upsetting. But I felt that the way she seemed to claim the tragedy as her own was incredibly disrespectful to all those who either perished that day or lost loved ones.

So, 36 pages in, I put the book on the shelf. I don’t think I can pick it up again and will return it to my coworker when she finishes up the vastly superior Solitude of Prime Numbers. It’s rare that I don’t finish a book I’ve started. There are only a handful (The Polished Hoe, A Tale of Two Cities, to name a couple) in that list but I suspect I’ll be adding this piece of contrived pandering.

Did anyone else like it? Should I pick this book back up and give it another go? Does she become any less self-congratulatory?

*The notable exception being a girlfriend who, upon discovering that I had started E,P,L stated her unequivocal abhorrence of it. I am well acquainted with her tastes in books and trust her judgment (you can read her blog HERE) She echoed my sentiments and confirmed my suspicion that I would continue to detest the protagonist.

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~ by foodNURD on June 10, 2010.

5 Responses to “Oh, how I hate this book.”

  1. DON’T, I REPEAT DON’T, PICK IT BACK UP! I think it is one of the worst books I have ever read and it will just get worse – I promise.

  2. See, it never even occurred to me that I would want to read it. From everything I’d heard about it (in its glowing reviews from press and personal encounters), it seemed exactly as you’d described it. Glad to know my gut instinct on that one was wrong.

    So, give it back, and get Solitude back, so’s I can borrow it! 😉

  3. Melly, you were definitely *right.* Pure tripe.

  4. I have never read this book, nor heard of it[*gasp*! I am fairly in touch with books…] I think I had perhaps seen it in the book shop once or twice. But on the topic of Chick-Lit… I am not a big fan, because ususlly it can be a bit predicting!! But I want to recommend a book or two that I LOVED!
    The Girl Next Door – Elizabeth Noble.
    A tale of two sisters – Anna Maxted [loved this one a lot!]
    My vintage summer – Jane Elmor. [Not sure if this is chick-lit, but I loved this book A LOT!]

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