I know that everyone and their mum got around to reading this book before I did, but I still wanted to put a few words out there about it. It's the best book I've read in a long while, and I now want all my friends and family that haven't read it to give it a go. There are so many passages in the novel that I bookmarked because they impacted me. The paragraph above about depression made me think for days about all the things I've ever thought might cause my own.
The book is separated into three sections, each 36 chapters long. The first section starts off with an introduction into Elizabeth Gilbert's past life, as the novel is semi-autobiographical. Crying on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night, Liz starts to realise that her marriage is going down the pan: she simply doesn't love her husband any more. They've bought their dream house in Manhattan, but her life is empty.
During their gruelling divorce (turns out things get messy when only one person wants to end things), Liz gets into an on and off relationship with a new man called David. When she's not near David she craves him, and every time they break up they're both drawn back to one another, but once they're together Liz always knows they're not right for each other.
After one final break-up, Liz decides that she needs to start doing things for herself. She begins to learn Italian; something she's been wanting to do for years. Soon she hatches a plan to get her life back together. First, she's going to Italy to put her newly learned speech into use. Then, she's going to spend a few months in an Indian ashram. There she'll follow the guidance of a yogic guru she felt inspired by after meeting her in New York. Finally, she's going to revisit the town of an ancient medicine man in Bali, whom she met on a work visit a few years back.
Liz's time in Italy is all about learning how to enjoy herself again. Faced with the guilt of 'ruining' her husband's future with her, she'd lost a lot of weight and become reliant on anti-depressants. She spends her months there trying every food she could possibly want to in Italy, speaking to people in the language she's fallen in love with and sightseeing around Rome and Naples.
Her time in India is entirely the opposite. Liz wants to learn self-discipline, and to become happy by changing things on the inside. At the ashram she gets up at 3am every morning to scrub the temple floors, before spending a good chunk of her day meditating. On the face of it, this seemed like the most boring section of the novel, but it actually turned out to be my favourite.
Finally, in Indonesia she searches for balance between extreme self-indulgence and self-sacrifice. She becomes part of a community in Indonesia, and has possible the greatest time of all her travels. And, she starts to accept that she could look for love again ...
I honestly enjoyed this so much, and would recommend it to everyone!