Gilbert left her longtime husband, Jose Nunes, for Elias earlier this year, after documenting the beginning of their relationship in her bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.
For many people, the love story between Nunes and Gilbert was a source of inspiration. Gilbert wrote honestly about her struggles to find “the one”, and then – as if by magic – it happened. The coupling seemed like something out of a fairytale – a perfect love, an aspirational love.
But in the end, the love story between Gilbert and Nunes was thwarted by another love.
A more powerful love. In her announcement, Gilbert describes her discovery that she does not not “merely love” Rayya. Instead, she is “in love” with Rayya.
For many of Gilbert’s fans, the news hit home. It spoke to being true to one’s self and one’s feeling. It epitomised everything Gilbert has come to stand for since the early days of Eat, Pray, Love.
For me, though, the story has a more personal angle.
My mother also left her "love story" with my father for her female best friend.
As a child, I knew I was lucky with my parents from the first day of kindergarten. I met a fellow new student, who described to me her living situation - weekdays at mum's place, weekends at dad's - with the tired air of a war veteran. I could hardly believe what I was hearing.
"You mean your parents don't live together?" I demanded, with all the tact of a five-year-old.
"They don't love each other any more," she told me matter-of-factly.
I knew with certainty in that moment that I would never be faced with such an awful proposition. My parents loved each other. More than loved each other.
I soon grew to find them embarrassing. I'd roll my eyes when they kissed in the hallway, fake-vomit when they held hands.
That's part of the reason it was such a shock eight years ago, when my mum announced she was leaving my dad for her best friend.