"Eat, Pray, Love" author Elizabeth Gilbert steps back from the spotlight

After enduring the wild success of "Eat, Pray, Love," Elizabeth Gilbert now says she's retiring to a life of "slow fiction and even slower gardening."

Francois Duhamel/AP
Elizabeth Gilbert has enjoyed many benefits from the overwhelming success of her book "Eat, Pray, Love" – including a flattering portrayal of herself by Julia Roberts in the film version.

Eat? Been there! Pray? Done that. Love? Yawn.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the stratospherically popular memoir-turned-movie “Eat, Pray, Love,” is ready to move on. Really.

Gilbert delivered her final performance on “Eat, Pray, Love” at a New York Public Library talk last Thursday. It was, according to a NYPL announcement, her final bow: “[Elizabeth Gilbert will] speak in public for the last time about her 'Eat, Pray, Love' journey before retiring to a quieter life of, as she puts it, ‘working on slow fiction and even slower gardening,’ ” the announcement read.

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Gilbert's memoir-cum-travelogue-cum-inspirational-self-help-guide sold more than 4 million copies, dominated the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list for 57 weeks, was translated into over 30 languages, and of course, earned Gilbert a flattering film portrayal by Julia Roberts. But that whiz-bang success also made “Eat, Pray, Love” “synonymous with something very poppy and chick lit-y,” the author said in her NYPL talk, noting that for all its success, “Eat, Pray, Love” didn’t get the literary accolades her earlier works did. (“Pilgrims,” her first collection of short stories, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Prize.)

After a hectic decade of personal and professional transformation, Gilbert says she’s ready to move into the slow lane and move back to fiction.

"I got my start as a fiction writer and haven't written fiction in over a decade," she told USA Today.

Her next work will be a historical novel about 19th-century botanists, which Gilbert is now researching.

“It's an oasis to return to fiction, and I love gardening, so it's a way for me to write about the thing I love the most right now,” she said.

Don’t hold your breath. She called the project “slow fiction,” saying “I’m in no rush” to finish.

“I'm ushering in this book and stepping out of the spotlight and retiring to a life of gardening and slow fiction.”

“Sow, Water, Wait,” anyone?

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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