Eat, Pray, Love: A new kind of chick trip

Based on those reactions, I didn't tell many people that I liked the book. I was afraid I'd get kicked out of the Margaret Cho fan club.

Perhaps, though, I should have explained my thoughts to my husband.

I told him that I related to Elizabeth Gilbert, and the premise of her memoir sounded interesting to him; I also mentioned that she got her start writing for men's magazines. So he downloaded the book and we listened to it on the way to Boston.

We got as far as the sixth chapter.

He wondered, out loud, for 20 minutes somewhere in rural Georgia, how I could relate to a woman who wanted neither a marriage, nor children, and instead wished to escape halfway around the world and write.

"Is there something you want to tell me, Katie?" he asked.

Oh my.

I said that I related to her struggle for something better. Instead of focusing on others, Gilbert looked within. Yes, she no longer wanted to be married, and took off for Italy, India and Indonesia, but it was to discover true happiness within herself.

I know. It sounds insufferable.

But Eat, Pray, Love isn't insufferable. It's refreshingly devoid of easy sentiment and resonates with those of us who believe our own truth should always triumph over what other people expect us to do.

Unlike Gilbert, I have a happy marriage with no intention of leaving. I also happen to enjoy being a mother. My children are the ultimate celebration of love and hope.

Even though sometimes they make me want to pull out my eyebrows.

But I do relate to issues about self-identity and wanting to do better for myself outside the house. I didn't have to travel to Bali or Rome to figure anything out. And Eat, Pray, Love didn't teach me anything I don't already know. Gilbert simply reminded me: Be true to yourself. Stop looking elsewhere for answers, because those answers are instead within my own heart and soul.

It took more than a few minutes, but after I explained why I understood Gilbert's dissatisfaction, Husband got it. I can appreciate someone's struggle, without sharing it.

But he still didn't like the memoir.

Husband couldn't get past why Gilbert left a perfectly nice guy. The fact that she exposed an ex-husband, creating hurt feelings and broken dreams, took the joy of the journey away from him.

He never went back and listened to the rest of the book and I didn't push it. A 20-hour car drive with two 10-year-olds is rough enough.

I was scared to admit to the entire Tampa Bay community, and world at large, that I liked, that I adored, this book. I feared I'd never hear the end of it. But since I've always been honest about every other aspect of my life, I figured I'd be honest about this, too. I was once a John Edwards supporter. How bad could this be?

I have taken some guff about the irony of it all. A nonconformist, feminist type finding beauty in a popular book about self-discovery.

But instead of defending myself, when people give me shit, I now simply tell them to suck it. How's that for evolved?

I loved the book, and am looking forward to the movie.

So there.

At least it's not Twilight.

Catherine Durkin Robinson is a busy mom and writer living in Tampa Bay. Find her online at Her first novel, Olivia's Kiss, is now available on Kindle.

Categorized as "chick lit," Eat, Pray, Love cultivated quite a following several years back. I ignored it, because those types of women watch Lifetime and join Jenny Craig.

No, thanks.

Oprah got involved and I knew for sure I wasn't going to like the book.

She liked Twilight, for crying out loud.

Then Julia Roberts signed on for the movie version.

Strike three.

Eventually, I did read Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir and fell in love with it. This annoyed a few friends, who couldn't understand why I'd turned into such a huge disappointment.

"You're becoming one of the masses," a delightful creature told me. "And you always said the masses are asses. Next thing you know, you'll be faking orgasms and saying 'literally' all the time."

Good lord.

Scroll to read more Food News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.