Did 'Eat, Pray, Love' Sell Millions Because Elizabeth Gilbert Cheated On Her Husband?

Illustration for article titled Did Eat, Pray, Love Sell Millions Because Elizabeth Gilbert Cheated On Her Husband?

Today's WSJ has a story that explains in painstaking detail how Eat, Pray, Love became the most popular book we ever hated ourselves for loving, despite so-so hardcover sales. In the event you haven't read it, it's a memoir of a person who gets very rich when Disney buys her personal essay as the basis for the movie Coyote Ugly, only to have some weird existential crisis and leave town. "Although her plans were uncertain, she knew she wanted to learn Italian, meditate at her guru's temple in India and spend time with a healer in Bali." Anyway, this plan made her even richer because: the resultant book was chick lit, but it wasn't set in Manhattan, and chick lit not set in Manhattan is the sort of the new chick lit set in Manhattan. And, there were ads in places as unlikely as Yoga Journal, an O excerpt, the usual promotional clusterfuck. Also the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, is really pretty and nice and when she shows up at readings people swoon and want to buy a book just so she'll sign one. Which brings us to a major overlooked factor in the book's success.

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Isn't she a little too nice and funny and likable to be for real? Isn't that a major reason this book is so goddamn popular? Because you're like, well shit lady, you cheated on your husband and now you're charming the bejesus out of middle American housewives all the way to the bank! Or am I just a terrible person? You've gotta read it to decide for yourself! TGIF, right?

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From Hardcover To Paper, How A Blockbuster Was Born [WSJ]

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DISCUSSION

I said I would never read this, either, but with an impending beach vacation and every person I asked recommending this to me as a beach read, I caved. I loved the Italy part, and since it was first it sucked me in... only to find that I pretty much hated the India part and that the episode in Bali was just okay.

But I'm not a fan of the cheaters (no, not even Brad) so maybe that colored my perception.