Where I Bought : eBook
Price : –
Rating : 3/5 stars
According to my search on internet, this book was a hit in 2007. The readers either admired it or they totally loathed it. The reviews were extreme. Back then I didn’t know this book’s existence.
Fast forwarding to a few years later (2010), this book was adapted into a movie starring Julia Roberts. Soon after it premiered the books were promoted all over storefront of local bookshops, selling like hotcakes. Even my friend — who I think only read magazines — picked up this book because it was a fad back then. It was then I knew about this book’s existence but somehow interest eluded me.
So in August 2015 — 5 years later — to understand its popularity, I began reading this book. In fact I started reading it before checking anything off the internet.
This book depicts Elizabeth’s memoir about her breakdown in marriage and anecdotes about her healing journey across 3 countries.
I have decided to structure it like a japa mala, dividing my story into 108 tales, or beads. This string of 108 tales is further divided into three sections about Italy, India and Indonesia — the three countries I visited during this year of self-inquiry. This division means that there are 36 tales in each section, which appeals to me on a personal level because I am writing all this during my thirty-sixth year.
Japa mala is the rosary wore by Yogis to assist in meditation, and that was how she started the book off, with a zen introduction.
Italy was the first part of her journey to seek pleasure through food and learning the Italian language which she has always been yearning to dab into. It was in Italy that she tried to cope with her divorce, loneliness, depression and picked up her shattered pieces one by one. It was an account on her lowest point in life and how she got the light bulb moment to embark on this journey.
Italy was also a part of the book where a lot of monologue happened (and I mean A LOT), which is too much of self-talking that puts me off in reading through. She is pretty distressed at some point to exaggerating, as if pleasure is a topic that needed to be taught of. Maybe she was troubled by her marriage for too long, numbed to be enjoying pleasure but the way of her writing it out was not appealing to me.
I wanted to take on pleasure like a homework assignment, or a giant science fair project. I pondered such questions as, “How is pleasure most efficiently maximized?” I wondered if maybe I should spend all my time in Italy in the library, doing research on the history of pleasure. Or maybe I should interview Italians who’ve experienced a lot of pleasure in their lives, asking them what their pleasures feel like, and then writing a report on this topic.
Like really? Has she not been enjoying doing anything at all prior to her unhappy marriage? Something illogical being to know how her life came to be (told in the book). She did not come from a broken nor underprivileged family and this somehow came across to me as ungrateful.
And as I paged through, the whole pleasure seeking episode in Italy was being narrated in such way. After reading 32 chapters you would be fumed to read this:
Over the last months in Italy, my word has largely been PLEASURE, but that word doesn’t match every single part of me, or I wouldn’t be so eager to get myself to India.
Okay, I just wasted my time reading one third of the book.
But I am a patient reader. So I tried giving it a second chance by moving on to the other 2 parts. And luckily the remaining of the book was much joyous to read.
Her prattling conversation dwindled and what replaced it was stories, histories and culture of India. She talked about the philosophy behind Yoga, letting her ego go, how she awakened her inner energy but not without obstacles, the divinity of how things fall naturally in place and her path to finding God.
The conveyance of Yoga knowledge and journey to devotion is what I enjoyed much into this part of the book because I had meditation and Yoga experience. Having read texts which you can learn much from is like a thirsty man drinking up water, until the very last drop.
Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy. One, you can see; one, you cannot. One is made of bones and teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith. But they are both equally true.
This is my favourite quote. And to write with such understanding of Yoga, her journey to India must have been a wonderful enlightenment of a lifetime. She wrote about her discovery of the kundalini shakti energy and ultimately experiencing the state of moksha (liberation) which all Yogis aimed for, all I read on with amazement.
And in India she healed, much more than her healing began in Italy.
To my relieve (no annoying monologues) the third part of the book in Indonesia was nothing short of the colourful lifestyle in Bali. The tropical island is deeply rooted with Hinduism myths present in society, belief and in the rituals performed.
This is where Elizabeth reached her last leg of the healing odyssey. To finally learn how to let go of her past and find love. The collection of people she met in Bali provided insight into a well structured community, many facts which I didn’t know of.
And in Bali, she was totally healed.
This book invoked mixed feelings. I was dismayed about Italy where I thought I could journey with her in my dream destination but was not. I wish the savouring of Italian food was written with more depth. Though fortunately much of my disappointment was made up for the wise read of India and Indonesia.
I would recommend this book if you’re keen to explore Yoga spirituality or find solace in reading how she emerged from a broken relationship rubble. However I wouldn’t recommend it if you dislike reading self-centric ranting which went on for the first part of the story.
With this review and in conjunction with Melodious Friday, I would love to share a traditional Balinese music Ratu Anom found on Youtube. Listen to the beautiful melodies, soothing nature sounds and let your mind relax.