And now, while we’re on the topic of those “my amazing year” memoirs, let’s turn to another giant of the genre, Elizabeth Gilbert, whose Eat, Pray, Love was such a runaway hit (and a book I absolutely loved). It’s a hard act to follow, which Gilbert seems very much aware of. Instead of setting out on another interesting year-long odyssey, she writes about the bizarre situation in which she finds herself — although she throws in some research along the way to make her intensely personal reflections more universal.
Gilbert and her partner Felipe, the Brazilian hottie she met at the end of Eat, Pray, Love, are happily living outside the bonds of holy matrimony — which neither of them wants to re-enter — until the U.S. Department of Immigration intervenes and tells them Felipe won’t be allowed back in the country unless they get married. Since Liz doesn’t want to live outside the U.S., this poses a problem. The couple goes wandering off through Southeast Asia while the U.S. government ploughs through their paperwork. While bureaucrats decide whether they are allowed to get married, Elizabeth has to decide whether she wants to.
In Committed, Gilbert confronts her own ambivalence about the institution of marriage, the history of marriage in western civilization, views of marriage in some of the southeast Asian cultures she visits, the battles over gay marriage, and her parents’ and grandparents’ marriages as well as her own unsuccessful first marriage. It makes for a thought-provoking memoir, all told in Gilbert’s engaging, self-deprecating voice. While this book is not likely to move readers as deeply as Eat, Pray, Love, it’s definitely an enjoyable read and I’m glad I picked it up.