Eat Pray Love Author: Reality Is None Of Us Get The Fairytale Ending We Hope For

Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes we know, this title sounds reaaaaaally bad but don’t worry, it’s not what you think. Yes, Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert did say “the reality is none of us get the fairytale ending we hope for” but allow us to put it into context so you realize it’s not all negative.

Australian women’s blogsite Mamamia interviewed the best-selling author as she just released her new book, The Signature of All Things, her first novel in 12 years! Yes, it’s been that long since Eat, Pray Love and only her second novel ever.

The book focuses on the lead character Alma, an powerfully intelligent female scientist, and her relationship with a Utopian artist, Ambrose.

Mamamia writer Natalia Hawk asked Gilbert if she chose a female protagonist in a science-themed novel on purpose, as this is not a subject you would normally associate with women, especially in the 19th century when this novel is set.

“I knew I wanted to write about a woman of great intellect and I knew I wanted to write about a woman I could relate to – someone whose primary love in her life is her love of her work – there’s certainly times in my life where my personal life has failed and my work has kept me going, so I know what that’s like, to have a project that you care about enough.”

She went to say how important it was to create a different sort of narrative than what we are used to when it comes to females in that era.

“I wanted to do something other than the classic 19th century ending for a woman’s life, where they really only get the two choices – you either get a good marriage to the gentry or you are dead. And I just thought, the reality of most women’s lives, then and now, is not that. The reality is that none of us really get the fairytale ending and none of us get the tragic ending either, we get something in between. And we make out of that, our own existence.”

So why has it taken until 2013 for a woman to write a strong female character set in the 19th century? While the social norms for the ladies of that day were vastly different to the way it is for us gals now, they still endured a lot and suffered much, but yet this isn’t often documented.

“I think that women are also stupendously able to endure tremendous disappointment in a way that isn’t captured in literature. Terrible things can happen to you and you can survive them and live a very dignified existence around your disappointments – I think that’s what most women do. The key is to end your life thinking, “Well that’s an interesting thing. Didn’t get everything I wanted, but I have my pride and I learned a lot, and I’m glad I came.” I kind of felt like that’s the ending I wanted Alma to have.”

Gilbert says there is a good reason why strong women haven’t always been represented in the best light.

“Women’s stories have been underrepresented in history largely because women’s voices have been underrepresented in history.” Ah, so therein lies the problem we have been trying to solve for centuries! We are certainly lucky that in an age like the 21st century there are millions of ways we can use our voice.

As an author, Elizabeth has had many experiences that the Brontes, and Jane Austin never did, and that contributes a lot to being able to write characters with more depth.

“The Brontes never got to do what I got to do. They never got to travel, they never got to leave home, they never got to be members of libraries. So there are all sorts of restrictions on their lives that I never had. So I wanted to go big.”

So her advice to all the young women out there who have no excuse not to be able to live out there dreams?

“If you want to know the world, sometimes you have to get out and roll around.”

Well there it is girls, the world is your oyster, and what better reason to get excited about the era we live in, than Elizabeth Gilbert’s examples of what the women of yesterday did not have yet.

We like that she is committed to writing strong female characters, without the notion that falling in love and being emotional is a “weak thing. Like she said, it’s about using our voices.

How will you use yours today?


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