I need to go ahead and get this out of the way.
Most books are better than the movie. This is a well known and constantly repeated fact. There are a few exceptions to this rule - Witches of Eastwick, Chocolat and Practical Magic being three of those exceptions (sorry ladies who love the books, they bored the hell outta me and totally not what I expected after such imaginative movies).
This movie and book were not exceptions.
If I was enamoured with the movie, I am deeply involved with the book...
I'd wear its Letterman jacket, or ring...we might just get matching tats.
I smile immediately at the intro that explains how this story, with its 3 main sections and its 108 parts, like the beads of a mala with this 109th bead being her section of thanks. It was such a beautiful, thought-provoking explanation. I hadn't ever read a book set up in such a way. It was introducing me to a friend for the first time, it seemed, after its reputation preceded and we had eyed each other from across the cocktail party. Hello. It also made me get out my mala after it had been put away for a few months.
One of my favorite characters is in this part of the book is Luca Spaghetti. This is a man who I would invite out to eat just to hear him talk about food and people and life. I think they did a good job casting for him in the movie but this character, I don't think, could ever really be captured on film.
We are quickly transported from Italy to India...from the world of laid back, amused pleasure to a universe of calm, spiritual, focused concentration.
As much as I wanted to visit Italy after reading part 1, I am dying to visit India after reading part 2.
The idea of spending 4 months in an Ashram, where my only focus is meditating, yoga, the Geet, and getting in touch with the Divine...sounds...well, divine!
Liz is honest about the experience though. There are difficulties such as malaria carrying mosquitoes, being surrounded by poverty, the rough days of getting up at 3 am to meditate, do yoga and attend what is called the Geet all before breakfast at 9. I know myself well enough that a week of that would either make me or break me.
I also think many of us can completely relate to her difficulty of meditating while the brain or mind keeps distracting you. I do want to point out that she does overcome it and this type of meditation, the clearing of the mind, has been said to be one of the most difficult for those of the Western world to practice.
It is in this section that I cried. Please, if you never read this book...please pick it up at a book store and read pages 157-158. I fell in love with her argument between mind and heart and the heart's response...made me cry joyfully.
But before I give too much away...
Of course, if you've seen the movie, you know that this is where Liz finds love in a Brazilian man named Filipe. Their story is actually continued in the book Committed. So if you fell in love with Felipe too, you might want to check that out.
In Bali, Liz focuses on Balance.
How do you balance a life between pleasure and devotion?
I have this question too. Should I be an Epicurian? Experience everything life has to offer? OR should I cultivate a life of meditative devotion to the divine? I think I chose my pagan ways because it has this balance. For Liz, this balance was found in practice of her meditation, her yoga, her relationships and her love. She found no reason to give up any of these things. All she gave up was attachment to misery that is guilt and shame and worry. I love that.
I have recommended it to all of my friends and read it aloud to Damon, whether he wanted to hear it or not, hah! I recommend it to you, too!