BRIDGET TURNS ELIZABETH

The last chick lit book I read was Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding and its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. I thought I was done with chick lit. I didn’t realize I picked up another one at Periplus Bookstore at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport last December en route to Singapore.  The memoir Eat Pray Love reminds me of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes particularly when Calvin invented a transmogrifier box. And it seems that Bridget Jones was placed in that box and turned into the character-author Elizabeth Gilbert minus the Queen Mother’s clipped accent and a lot wiser than Bridget who fell for the oldest trick in the book while vacationing in Thailand.

Welcome Elizabeth, a woman in her 30s who charts her journey of self-healing following a devastating divorce and a failed relationship after her divorce. Unlike Bridget who ditched the cad she pined for and ended up with human rights barrister Marc Darcy, Elizabeth filed for divorce because it dawned on her that she couldn’t bear to have children and be a mother, which her husband, in a way, expected her to do and be. And like anyone in the throes of an emotional upheaval, she straight away jumped into another relationship, which failed miserably.

I keep wondering whether it was “divine intervention” that I should just happen to pick up this book while in the midst of recovering from my failed relationship. Whether that is the case or not, it made for an amusing read particularly her sojourns to Italy and Bali. Admittedly, it was on-and-off reading when during her India tales. Italy I enjoyed because I have an affinity for pasta and attracted to how an Italian speaks and when he speaks in English. I got stymied in her India tales although I liked the parts when she described how when her mind starts to wander during meditation and her internal soliloquies, which were funny plus her friend Richard from Texas who had an interesting take on life and an out-of-the-ordinary moniker for Elizabeth. The India tales are centered on her stay in an ashram and struggles with meditation, which, I found, a little too private to be made public.

Bali was engaging. Aside from being biased about the island of the Gods, the narrative was peppered with interesting people like the medicine man Ketut Iyer who can’t remember his age and her new friend Wayan, a divorced woman thus an outcaste, because, as Elizabeth painted her, she typifies the local’s attitude towards visitors. She’s helpful and loyal but can be scheming without being intentionally malicious.  As Elizabeth’s new boyfriend explained, “You need to understand the thinking in Bali. It’s a way of life here for people to try to get the most money they can out of visitors. It’s how everyone survives.”

Naturally, I shared an affinity with Gilbert in her search for balance after the emotional tornadoes in her life. That would account for the most part of my enjoyment of the book – I didn’t feel alone in my search for balance and I was assured I wasn’t about to send e-mails from the edge.

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