Elizabeth Gilbert Announces a Split From a Central Character


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Elizabeth Gilbert in 2009.

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Damon Winter/The New York Times

Elizabeth Gilbert, whose best-selling 2006 memoir, “Eat Pray Love,” traced a journey of self-discovery around the world that continues to resonate with fans, announced a new chapter on Friday.

Or is it a new ending?

Ms. Gilbert, speaking directly to her readers in a Facebook post, said that after 12 years she was separating from José Nunes, the Brazilian importer whom she met during her travels and later married, and who was a central character in the book.

“I am separating from the man whom many of you know as ‘Felipe,’ ” she wrote of her husband, referring to his pseudonym in the book. “Our split is very amicable. Our reasons are very personal.” She also asked for privacy, saying she would be “a bit absent from social media during this sensitive moment.”

“Eat Pray Love,” a sumptuous tale of escape, self-discovery and romance, quickly became a cultural phenomenon, though not one without criticism, with some noting that not every woman who wished to escape would have the privilege to live as sumptuously as Ms. Gilbert did on her sojourn through India, Italy and Bali.

The book, however, drew praise from Oprah Winfrey and was made into a 2010 film starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. The tale also resonated with fans, mostly women, who either identified with being in an unhappy relationship or had managed to artfully escape one.

The phenomenon has endured over the past decade: The travelogue touched so many readers that it eventually spawned a book, “Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It,” comprising 47 essays from inspired fans who had written their own tales of escape and discovery. That book was released in April.

In retrospect, two recent articles in The Times may have signaled that the author’s trademark wanderlust was back in play, and that another relationship may have been disintegrating.

In April, Ms. Gilbert said that she missed travel: “I’ve never been to Japan, Iceland, South Africa and other places that it would be a pity to come to this earth and miss.”

Weeks later, she and Mr. Nunes were in the last stages of closing Two Buttons, a store of worldly trinkets (and one 7,000-pound Buddha statue) in Frenchtown, N.J., which the couple had opened in 2007.

“It was great and a really fun project, but my husband and I share this similar trait where once we’ve made or built something, we no longer have any interest in it,” Ms. Gilbert said.

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