Elizabeth Gilbert, a journalist and short story writer, had just turned thirty when she went through a very difficult divorce that led to a debilitating depression. When she began dating a new man, she thought her life was finally changing for the better. The man, however, proved to be less than what Gilbert was looking for, and the experience sent her back into the throes of depression. Those life-changing events drained her of all energy and motivation, so she decided to make drastic changes to her lifestyle. Gilbert's recovery process is chronicled in her best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.
For her plan to return to mental and physical health, Gilbert divides the next year into three sections, each section four months long. For the first four months, she devotes herself to simple pleasures. This corresponds to the “Eat” portion of the memoir. She flies to Rome, where she surrenders to physical pleasures, such as tasting the great food and drink that only Italy can offer. She tries her hand at learning Italian and even flirts with some of the local men whose romantic language soothes her aching heart. But at the end of the fourth month, she finds that she is still haunted by depression. So she continues forward with her plan.
Her next stop is a sacred ashram (or temple) in India, where, under the tutelage of a wise and aged guru, she explores her spiritual side. Gilbert spends long hours sitting in meditation, sometimes practicing strict silences and taking only short amounts of time to focus on her physical needs. For the third part of the story, the one that corresponds to “Love,” Gilbert travels to Bali, Indonesia. There she meets an Australian who will eventually become her husband.
Eat, Pray, Love (2006) struck a nerve in the reading public. The memoir proved so popular, it remained at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for more than a year. The memoir has also been produced as a movie, slated to appear in 2010, staring Julia Roberts.