82 pages 2 hours read

Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat Pray Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2006

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Summary and Study Guide


Eat Pray Love is a 2006 memoir by writer Elizabeth Gilbert whose previous works include the novels Stern Men and The Last American Man. The book’s subtitle is One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, and it chronicles Gilbert’s quest for mental and spiritual healing following a divorce, difficult legal settlement, unhealthy love affair, and period of depression. This guide references the 2016 Penguin Random House edition.


The author searches for “I” in three places beginning with the letter “I,” each chosen for what it might offer her: Italy its language and food, India its ashram, and Bali its teaching from a medicine man. She models the memoir on Indian prayer beads, japa malas: 108 beads strung together. She divides Eat Pray Love into three books, one about each country, and she divides each book into 36 chapters.

Referring to herself as “Liz,” Gilbert flashes back and forth between travels in the three countries, memories, and the historical, spiritual, and cultural background of each place she visits. Liz undertakes this journey to address experiences of depression after the end of her marriage and an unhealthy affair. She has begun to learn Italian and wants to become fluent in the language. She has also become a follower of a spiritual teacher and wishes to spend time at her ashram in India. Finally, she met a medicine man on a writing assignment in Bali and wants to spend time studying with him.

She dedicates a full year to this itinerary in hope of creating balance in her life and finding a closer connection to God. She also takes the vow of celibacy to break a pattern of romantic relationships that began at the age of 15. The trip forces her to confront the emotional baggage she carries. The journey ends in Bali, where she falls in love with a Brazilian expatriate, Felipe.