Eat, Pray, Love is about a writer, beaten down by divorce, who finds herself again as she journeys through Italy, India and Indonesia.
Elizabeth Gilbert was in her 30s when she realized the life she had made for herself may not be the life she wanted. The big house, career and thought of having kids left her crying on the bathroom floor. Dealing with an eventual divorce, depression and an unhealthy relationship with her new lover, she plans a year long soul-searching voyage to find those things that were missing in her life. She heads to Rome to experience the pleasures in life while being celibate. Her next stop is an ashram in India where she learns about meditation and devotion. Her final destination is Bali where she learns about balance. On her journey, she meets several interesting people who play a role in her eventual discovery of happiness, and her realization that she can love again.
Book Club Ideas
For the entry hall table I wanted to show the locations where Elizabeth Gilbert traveled, so I included a map marking the countries of Italy, India and Indonesia. I also included objects from each of these locations:
Italy: Oleander flowers, Pecorino cheese, olives and Chianti, which got the party started about 2 minutes after this picture was taken.
India: Prayer beads (with 108 + 1 beads) and an incense burner (at least that is what we think it is)
Indonesia: A bowl of mangoes and bananas with a pineapple alongside and an orchid, which is the official flower of Bali.
Another option for decor is to have a progression from room to room with each room decorated in each of the regions:
- Italy: Serve Prosecco as an Italian aperitif when the guests arrive. Decorate with a red-checkered tablecloth and candles placed in a Chianti bottle.
- India: The main meal could be Indian food served in a room you enter through sari drapes held back with beaded tassles, on a table draped with a sari tablecloth or table runner. You could put decorative pillows around the room in various colors and designs to match your decor.
- Indonesia: For dessert, something Indonesian. Examples of an Indonesian dessert include coconut sweet potato cake and spiced fruit salad. Other Indonesian desserts can be found at AsiaRecipe.com.
What to wear
I wore this Indian Sari to the wedding of one of my best friends. I was excited to be able to wear it again.
Book Club Menu
There were numerous food references to use as a menu guide. I decided against the baby lamb intestines in a savory gravy and instead based the menu on the Elizabeth Gilbert’s first meal when she arrives in Rome.
This meal consisted of :
Fried zucchini blossoms with dab of cheese in middle (despite scouring farmer’s markets, we were unable to find zucchini blossoms, so we made Sauteed Zucchini instead)
House bread with Olive Oil Dipping Sauce made with Balsamic Vinegar.
Book Club Resources
- As you read Eat, Pray, Love, did you admire Elizabeth Gilbert? Did you understand her actions?
- What advice would you have given Elizabeth Gilbert if she called you from her bathroom floor?
- Have you thought of leaving it all behind and traveling the world in search of whatever you feel is missing in your life? Would you ever really do it?
- Elizabeth Gilbert travels the world looking for pleasure, spirituality and balance. Do you think Elizabeth Gilbert would have had such revelations if she had stayed closer to home?
- Have you ever taken a trip and returned to feel that an essential part of you had changed or perhaps grown? Have you ever met someone unexpectedly while traveling that greatly influenced your life?
- If you were going to travel in search of pleasure, where would you go? How about for spirituality and balance?
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of a short story collection, Pilgrims, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and winner of the 1999 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares-and a novel, Stern Men. A Pushcart Prize winner and National Magazine Award-nominated journalist, she works as writer-at-large for GQ. Her journalism has been published in Harper’s Bazaar, Spin, and The New York Times Magazine, and her stories have appeared in Esquire, Story, and the Paris Review.