Tuesday January 5th, 2010

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

committed-by-gilbertCommitted is Gilbert’s follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love, a blockbuster memoir (Julia Roberts will star in the movie) whose “bestseller ranking is measured in years, not weeks.” In that book, Gilbert got over a painful divorce by traveling around the world, during which time she met and fell in love with a Brazilian named Felipe. In Committed, the couple are forced to marry if they are going to be allowed to live in the U.S. Both of them have emotional scars from previous relationships, and hope to overcome hers, Gilbert researches the history and meaning of marriage. Critics, like Amy Reiter at the Barnes & Noble Review, seem unanimous in saying that the new book suffers in comparison to the previous smash: “Eat, Pray, Love was an exploration of the heart. Committed, Gilbert’s attempt to think marriage through, is all head. It lacks, to a great degree, the warmth and intimacy readers have come to expect from this writer.” Coralie Carlson at The Huffington Post says that “[w]hile most people can relate to a story of recovering from heartache, it’s hard to have much empathy for a woman who finds herself forced to marry her Brazilian lover, who is, by all accounts, the man of her dreams.”

In The New Yorker, Ariel Levy writes:

Committed is an unfurling of Gilbert’s profound anxiety about reentering a legally binding arrangement that she does not really believe in. All this ambivalence, expressed in her high-drama prose, can be a lot to handle. (One generally doesn’t indulge another person’s emotional processing at this length unless the jabbering is likely to conclude with sex.) Ultimately, Gilbert is clear about what she, like most people, wants: everything. [. . .] But we can’t have it. Gilbert understands this, yet she tries to convince herself and her readers that she has found a loophole. She tells herself a familiar story, that her marriage will be different. And she is, of course, right—everyone’s marriage is different. But everyone’s marriage is a compromise.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
Viking, 304 pp., $26.95