#VogueBookClub: The Great Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

There is a story behind the famous book Eat, Pray, Love. And here, that story is told.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s success reached its peak in 2006, when the writer released Eat, Pray, Love – a narrative that, four years later, would eventually be adapted to the big screen with Julia Roberts in the lead role. Although not his first work, it was this memoir that made Gilbert’s name sound all over the world, and if his trip to India is a story worth telling, everything that happened after the launch of Eat, Pray, Love became equally intriguing.

This is one of the topics covered in The Great Magiclaunched in 2015. In it, Elizabeth Gilbert shares the inspirational process behind her best seller international and talks about creativity in a very unique, almost aspirational way. Perhaps that’s why this book is so often placed in the self-help category. But take my word for it, that’s not where it belongs. I’ve read too many titles like that to understand when a sentence is based on mere ramblings, and that’s not what Gilbert does. However, I believe that this confusion lies in the fact that The Great Magic have such a specific audience.

Although creativity is the central theme of Elizabeth Gilbert’s work, the American uses her professional experience – as a writer – to explore it, which means that many of her examples and arguments end up touching the theme of writing. Well, this can, at the outset, alienate a large part of readers, who do not identify with having to spend eight hours a day in front of the computer waiting for inspiration to come and the white sheets to fill. First world problems, I know, but it’s still something I identify with and that, for that very reason, made me like this book.

Even today I have in mind one of the analogies advanced by the writer in her work. To explain how creativity finds its owner, Gilbert compares ideas to soap bubbles floating above us. When a soap bubble chooses us, and an idea comes up, it stays by our side for some time, until we burst it and a product comes out of it. But sometimes, whether due to lack of time or inspiration, the idea ends up running away and finding a new owner. This would explain, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, how she herself has ideas for a book, which she is unable to materialize, but which, years later, she sees being published by others. It was the soap bubble that found its owner, and the idea that discovered the author who would make it a reality. After all, comparing writing to magic is perhaps not so far-fetched.


Vogue Book Club is a weekly feature. In this space, a member of the Vogue Portugal team proposes to reflect, or just comment, on a book – whether it is a literary novelty or a ravishing classic. You can participate in this discussion using the hashtag #VogueBookClub.

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