Synopsis: The only thing wrong with this readable, funny memoir of a magazine writer's yearlong travels across the world in search of pleasure and balance is that it seems so much like a Jennifer Aniston movie. Like Jen, Liz is a plucky blond American woman in her thirties with no children and no major money worries. As the book opens, she is going through a really bad divorce and subsequent stormy rebound love affair. Awash in tears in the middle of the night on the floor of the bathroom, she begins to pray for guidance, "you know -- like, to God." God answers. He tells her to go back to bed. I started seeing the Star headlines: "Jen's New Faith!" "What Really Happened at the Ashram!" "Jen's Brazilian Sugar Daddy -- Exclusive Photos!" Please understand that Gilbert, whose earlier nonfiction book, The Last American Man, portrayed a contemporary frontiersman, is serious about her quest. But because she never leaves her self-deprecating humor at home, her journey out of depression and toward belief lacks a certain gravitas. The book is composed of 108 short chapters (based on the beads in a traditional Indian japa mala prayer necklace) that often come across as scenes in a movie. And however sad she feels or however deeply she experiences something, she can't seem to avoid dressing up her feelings in prose that can get too cute and too trite. On the other hand, she convinced me that she acquired more wisdom than most young American seekers -- and did it without peyote buttons or other classic hippie medicines. When Gilbert determines that she requires a year of healing, her first stop is Italy, because she feels she needs to immerse herself in a language and culture that worships pleasure and beauty. This sets the stage for a "Jen's Romp in Rome," where she studies Italian and, with newfound friends, searches for the best pizza in the world...... About the Author&colon 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. "About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
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