While in the inner sanctum of a temple, in an ashram in India, a young woman is transported through time to “the wormhole of the Absolute.” She’s in a place of indeterminate dimension, outside her body and outside the Earth; neither dark nor lit.
Suddenly, the universe unravels all of its mysteries to her. She’s entered God, she realizes, but not in a “gross, physical way, not like she was stuck in a chunk of God’s thigh muscle.”
After a bitter and protracted divorce, and a passionate love affair gone sour, Gilbert set off on a yearlong voyage of self-discovery and spiritual awakening across three countries—Italy, India, and Indonesia.
During the first leg of her journey, in Italy, she pursues pleasure, declaring a “double major” in—eating and speaking Italian—with a “concentration on gelato.” Oddly, however, one doesn’t get to eat much of the sumptuous Italian fares vicariously through her. Mentions of food are few and far between.
In a colloquial language that is exaggeratedly puerile (Bologna is described as “P-R-E-T-T-Y,” and written exactly such) and occasionally downright grammatically incorrect, (“evening twilight,” “whole entire semester”) she bores the reader with her inane fascination with the Italian language.
She takes a break from that only to fill page after page with X-rays of her mental landscape.
She goes to India next, in search of God, who decides not to reveal to her the easy way. Her mind wrestles with meditation and her body revolts against the singing of Sanskrit hymns.
The discipline of the spiritual facility, in a remote village, where she takes up residency for four months, crushes her—till, one day, it quite unexpectedly and joltingly rejuvenates her.
At 4:15 a.m., one dawn, she jumps out of her dormitory window, miraculously falls on a “concrete sidewalk” intact, brushes the dust off her, and marches off in the dark to the temple meditation hall.
There, she discovers she can magically do what she’d struggled with for so long: chant a very difficult, tongue-twister of an ego-eating mantra.
Her stories of McSpirituality don’t make one ruminate, but snort in exasperation.
On another occasion, when she’d fallen into a pool of despondency formed by self-loathing, she’d heard “a lion roaring from with [her] chest” in a voice so loud that was actually forced to “clamp [her] hand over her mouth,” lest the decibels shook the foundations of the building, and raze it to the ground.
In an all-too-obvious mimicry of the lighthearted, chatty, girlish voice of the popular British writer Sophie Kinsella, known for her hilarious “Shopaholic” series, she fumbles, for Gilbert drapes it around a sober topic like spirituality—and not shopping.
Her humor fails to elicit laughter, only taking on a dippy, inane, and farcical flavor.
Gilbert inflicts the worst pain when she assumes she’s regaling with her coruscating wit. On the activation of the divine energy within her, she felt, she writes, it was “riding up her,” “rumbl[ing] like a diesel engine in low gear.”
Reader, try to stay away from this book unless you want to get a laugh just out of Gilbert’s idiotic solipsistic babble and spiritual claptrap.