‘Gin fizz’

Elizabeth Gilbert describes her new book as a ‘tonic’ to ease the pain of Rayya Elias’ death

Author Elizabeth Gilbert. (Getty Images)

Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert has released her first novel since the death of her partner Rayya Elias in January 2018. In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE magazine, Gilbert said that her new book, City of Girls, was, despite her grief, nonetheless her “funniest” yet, and that it was meant as a “sexy” celebration of female sexuality.

“This book is different from others that I’ve written in that it came from a place of me wanting a tonic for my own life to make me happy,” Gilbert explained. “And I offer it that way, as a tonic. I told my editor I want this book to go down like a gin fizz.”

“[For a long time,] I wanted to write a novel about female sexuality and female promiscuity where the characters aren’t destroyed by sex. It’s difficult to find a story like that and it’s very difficult to find stories about women who aren’t either traumatized or ruined by sex,” she continued. “I really wanted to write about female desire and about this idea that there might be seasons in a woman’s life where she’s really on the hunt for her pleasure.”

Speaking with PEOPLE, the popular author also opened up about her decision to leave her husband, José Nunes, in order to be with her Elias, who had been her best friend for 15 years before her diagnosis with pancreatic and liver cancer.

“I always knew [I loved her]. I always saw it, but I wasn’t going to uproot and disrupt my life or her life or my husband’s life,” she recalled. “I loved all of us too much to do that. I just lived with it, but not in a suffering way. Life is so strange, love is so strange. It’s like, okay, ‘You love her, so love her. Love her with all of your heart, that’s all you can do.’ … With the terminal diagnosis I was like… ‘I cannot let this person go to her grave without letting her know what she is to my heart.’”

Read the full interview at PEOPLE magazine.

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