Guess which smash 2006 best-seller with a near-100 percent female readership this quote comes from:
“I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you….There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”
Yup, you guessed it. And now Elizabeth Gilbert is splitting from Brazilan Romeo who whispered the above sweet nothing into her ear that found its way into Eat, Pray, Love, the memoir that launched 9 million swoons from 9 million women who devoured it on beaches and in book groups all over the world.
The plot: Sensitive 32-year-old Elizabeth dumps her boring husband and takes a year off traveling 'round the world to find herself: eat (pasta by the pound in Italy), pray (at one of those Western "spirituality"-catering ashrams in India), and love (the Brazilian trinket-seller she meets on a beach in Indonesia, whom she calls "Felipe.") Actually, all of this was fnanced by a generous book advance, but finding yourself is finding yourself.
Eat, Pray ultimately became a 2010 hit movie, also geared to the Oprah crowd. True, Elizabeth Gilbert doesn't exactly look like Julia Roberts, who played her, and "Felipe" (his real name is Jose Nunes, short, balding, and 16 years older than Gilbert, doesn't exactly look like Javier Bardem, the hunky Latin hunk who played him.
Gilbert and Nunes ultmately got married. The reason turned out to be a little more prosaic than "There is nothing you can ever do to lose my love": The Indonesian beaches seemed to have lost their appeal for Nunes, and he needed a green card in order to to live with Gilbert in a country that's apparently even more spiritually fulfilling than exotic Indonesia: the good old USA. As this blurb for Gilbert's 2010 follow-up book, Committed, explains:
But providence intervened one day in the form of the United States government, which—after unexpectedly detaining Felipe at an American border crossing—gave the couple a choice: they could either get married, or Felipe would never be allowed to enter the country again.
Oops! Fortunately Gilbert had the sense to get a pre-nup shielding much of her Eat, Pray millions from the man who swore to protect her until she died.
This would all be hilarious irony were it not for the fact that hundreds of Gilbert's female readers apparently took Eat, Pray, Love seriously and ditched their own husbands to travel around the world to find themselves–except without the beneifit of a hefty book advance, or indeed much fnancial security at all. As divorce consultant Cathy Meyer writes:
Exactly who are the women who fell victim to Gilbert’s over romanticized idea that they could throw it all away and “Eat, Pray, Love” their way to happiness? They were average women, women who took their responsibilities seriously, made the best of the life they had chosen for themselves even when they felt out of place and out of sorts with the life they had built. Until the[y] read Eat, Pray, Love!
If only Gilbert’s travels were a true reflection for what life after divorce is for most women I’d encourage all women to walk away, hop a steamer, and go find themselves. Since your average divorced woman doesn’t have the luxury of living off a book advance, isn’t lucky enough to find nice men around every corner and has to put ambitions on the back burner to take care of children I can’t, in good conscience, suggest anyone view Gilbert’s book and movie as anything other than mindless entertainment. It certainly isn’t an outline or map of what life will be like after divorce.
So, given Elizabeth Gilbert's 10-year adventure with the man who said he would "stay with" her forever, a better title for that book might have been "Eat, Pray, Beware."