I know it’s kind of cliched now, but I really enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love, which I got for Christmas several years ago (and pre-Julia Roberts movie). I re-read it in the fall of 2012 when I was going through a breakup (breakups, I’ve learned, make for pretty crazy reading choices. At this time, I also actively sought out several books about French women dieting and/or raising children – not a literary inclination I’ve ever had before or since. In retrospect, that was a very odd phase of my life that culminated with my purchase of a jaunty pink beret and ended as suddenly as it started).
What I appreciate very much about Elizabeth Gilbert is the frankness and honesty with which she discusses every element of her life. Committed sort of picks up where Eat, Pray, Love leaves off. She’s got the guy, they’re doing the international, border-hopping, dating thing and then they get thwarted by American customs officials, the Ruiners of International Relationships. Basically, unless Elizabeth and her guy tie the knot, he won’t be allowed in the United States anymore. But … cue the crisis … both of them have decided that after their disastrous and devastating divorces from their first partners, neither one of them is the marrying type. So what are they going to do?
It’s here that Gilbert breaks from the personal narrative for a bit to explore what commitment looks like in different cultures around the world – with or without pomp, fanfare and a ring. It’s well-researched, deeply touching and quite a lot of fun. Not a lot of books written for women or by women focus on the question of ‘Why don’t I want to get married?’ and it’s pretty apparent that Gilbert approaches the task from a place of introspection and curiosity.
Committed is certainly a more facts-and-figures type tome than the breezy, diary-like feel of Eat, Pray, Love, but I kind of liked that about it. I like that Gilbert wonders about her life in the context of the wider world and that she enters into her personal quest for information about marriage in culture with a very open mind. She’s a really great interviewer.Research, according to this great review from The New Yorker that contrasts Committed with Eat, Pray, Love, is Gilbert’s coping mechanism. Sometimes I think it may be mine, too.
It’s refreshing to hear about how she found love after a devastating break-up and how she and her partner are creating their own relationship on their own terms. I guess it’s kind of hopeful, in its own neurotic, well-researched way. It made me feel hopeful, anyway. And it made me think, which is what good writing is always supposed to make you do.