I think there are two great skills in writing: having something good to say, and saying it in a good way. There are dreary books that speak to great truths, but they are great because of the ideas that they contain. Many scientific papers can be like this – they are great because of the truth that they share about the universe. On the other hand, Eat, Pray, Love is a great book to my mind not because I found or learned a great truth, but rather, because it told the story in a beautiful and delicate and engaging way.
I came across this story of one woman’s trip to Italy, India and Indonesia because of my love and interest in outstanding Neapolitan pizza. The story became the movie by the same name, and has driven huge interest in Antica Da Michele, an outstanding pizzeria in Naples for generations. This interest has spawned it opening a branch in London a couple of years ago (first at Stoke Newington, now relocated to Baker Street) and now a second London branch in Soho.
In effect, I came for the pizza and stayed for the story.
Elizabeth Gilbert has a talent that I simply do not have – she has a broad and deep vocabulary that is deeply beautiful. Her prose builds an emotional depth that is both heart breaking in its despair, and uplifting in its hope. Those two themes combine to tell a story which is chronologically a year long, but emotionally much longer and deeper.
It’s well worth your time to enjoy this book – even though the pizza gets only a passing mention.