Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Eat, Pray, Love

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Eat, Pray, Love

One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert X
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2006, 352 pages
    Jan 2007, 352 pages

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Elizabeth Gilbert was born in Connecticut in 1969 and was raised on a small family tree farm. She is the sister of the young adult novelist Catherine Murdock whose first book Dairy Queen was published in 2006. Elizabeth went to college in New York City in the early 1990’s, and spent the years after college traveling around the country and the world, working odd jobs, writing short stories and essentially creating what she has referred to as her own MFA program.

After more than five years of sending out work for publication and collecting only rejection letters, she finally broke onto the literary scene in 1993, when one of her short stories was pulled from the slush pile at Esquire magazine and published under the heading “The Debut of an American Writer.” It was the first time Esquire had published a story by a previously unpublished writer since Norman Mailer.

She currently lives in New Jersey where she's at work on her new book. Exactly what that is is unknown but on her website there is a picture of her in Northern Vietnam with a water buffalo; the caption reads: "A taste of the next book to come".


  • Pilgrims (short stories, 1997)
  • Stern Men (novel 2000)
  • The Last American Man (nonfiction, 2002)
  • Eat Pray Love (2006)

Interesting to know:
In an interview at Gilbert is asked what book most influenced her life. To which she answers, "generally speaking, anything by Charles Dickens .... When I was struggling through my own first novel, I turned to "Bleak House again and studied it like a primer on how to tell a story, how to differentiate characters -- basically, how to write a novel. He is the best teacher I've ever had."

She tries not to make her "bookshelves into graveyards" so is constantly giving books away by the dozen. She says, "the more I like the book, the less likely that I'll keep it."

"I guess you could say I'm an overnight success who took about six years to become one. I collected rejection notes from the time I was about 18 until I was about 24. I didn't love being rejected, but it didn't slay me, either. I'd made my vows (almost like becoming a nun) to a life of writing and, while I was really hoping for success, that wasn't entirely the point. There was simply nothing else I wanted to do, or was much good at. Of course I have an ego, like everyone does, but it's not super-sized for some reason when it comes to writing. (It's much more of a problem in romantic relationships, but that's another story.) I have a reverential relationship with this work. I love the process. I think I am the luckiest person in the world that I get to do this as a career."

Q. How important does that year in your life seem to you now?
A. How important was the first breath you ever took the day you were born?
Read more from this interview at BookBrowse.

This article is from the February 7, 2007 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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