I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love last night. It is a first person account of a woman, who after a nasty divorce and a rebound romance, decides to take one year, spending a third in Italy, a third in India, and a third in Indonesia. The book is written in 180 chapters, echoing the 180 meditation beads, or japa malas she uses daily in her quest for inner peace.
I found it to be a wonderful book that I wanted to savor, just as the author savored the simple Italian foods of Rome. I am a fast reader, by nature, but with this book, I wanted to slow down and take in the words on the page as if they were sustenance...I'm thinking a nice chilled glass of limoncello in a dewy jelly jar. Eating her way through Italy, she also learns more of the the language she finds so beautiful and poetic, just because she loves the sound of it. So, she also revels in the beauty of words and phrases; finding deeper meaning in the word used as people cross a street..."Attraversiamo", meaning, "Let's cross over". A deeper meaning, as the writer is constantly "crossing over" to new places in her life, leaving trying to leave in her wake pain and loss and emptiness.
In India, she lives in a ashram to be close to her spiritual guru and to help herself come to terms with her past pains. She talks about life in the ashram and the others for across the globe who traveled to India to find their inner peace. She also discovers that Higher beings have a sense of humor, for as just when she decided to spend her last few weeks at the ashram, she would do so in total silence (she's an admitted chatterbox), and instead has been given the title of "key hostess", who mediates for the others who have decided that they prefer to be silent. In this turn of events, she finally discovers what she had been looking for...she finds herself "transported to the palm of God's Hand".
She leaves India for Indonesia. Two years previous, she had been to Bali where she met a Balinese healer who read her palm and told her that she would return to help him learn English. In Indonesia, she learns of the people, befriends a divorced Balinese healing woman and her daughter who are soon to be evicted for their home. Ex-pats who came to find a simpler life, even if that life is to lounge around and drink. A Brazilian man who helps her find her sexual side again after almost a year of celibacy.
It was a journey of her "crossing over", told with humor and honesty, taking common words and phrases and magically transfiguring them into the most profound thoughts.
See, now if I were to write a book on travels with a alliterating bent, it would have to be "Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana"...