The hype surrounding ''Eat, Pray, Love''
Shelve it among the fairy tales. Elizabeth Gilbert's incandescent memoir succeeds as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for women who no longer relate to Cinderella. Replace the timid, motherless maiden with a newly husbandless writer in her 30s; instead of evil stepsisters, sub in David, a rebound boyfriend who's Just Not That Into Her. And rather than a pumpkin coach, a juicy book contract transports our heroine to her metaphorical ball, letting her travel the globe, consume mountains of Roman spaghetti, practice yoga, and eventually replace David with a devoted Latin lover. She returns home not just healed, but a superstar. Is it all a little gooey? You bet. I can't defend this luscious confection any more than I can resist it. Jennifer Reese
The problem isn't the book, it's the author. Eat, Pray, Love is, after all, Elizabeth Gilbert's lavish reward to herself for dumping a seemingly unobjectionable husband and taking up with a cad. For the next year, on perhaps the most expensive backpacking trip in recorded history, she babbles about her selfless generosity to her ex (!), how much pasta she can pack away, and what a devoted, spiritual creature she's become. That's scarcely a triumph over adversity and even if it were, Gilbert created that adversity herself. Besides, courtesy dictates more grace in winning. If, despite a marked self-centeredness, you somehow manage to end up with everything everyone has ever wanted, keep it to yourself. Alynda Wheat