Lena's Reviews > Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
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's review
Jan 14, 2010

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bookshelves: essays, memoir

In thinking about why Liz Gilbert's memoir, Eat Pray Love, was so successful, I suspect that it's because it's the ultimate escapist fantasy. Gilbert flees a bad marriage and a bitter divorce and miraculously receives a large enough book advance to spend the next year traveling the world in search of pleasure, spirituality, and love. That her dream journey results in her finding healing and rebirth, not to mention a passionate new Brazilian lover, gives her story the perfect fairy tale ending.

The problem with happily ever after, of course, is that the "ever after" part of that phrase is usually a lot more complicated than your average fairy tale would imply. Gilbert's new story picks up two years after the first one left off, when her Brazilian lover Felipe has been banned from returning the States unless the two of them get married. Still bearing scars from her first marriage, Gilbert is not at all happy about this, but decides to forge ahead out of her desire to be with Felipe. Committed details her attempts to make peace with this decision.

Unlike EPL, Committed is less a memoir and more of a very long personal essay. Gilbert does relay some aspects of her own story, but the book spends more time on discussions about her research into the history and sociology of marriage in Western society. Though other reviewers have mentioned Gilbert does not cover any new ground here, I was unfamiliar with most of this research, so I did find this aspect of the book interesting.

Gilbert is a writer of both strong opinions and strong feminist inclinations, however, and these tendencies likely combined with her personal scars to create a tone that was often preachy and oddly paternalistic as she discussed what a raw deal she thinks marriage has historically been for most women. Though there were places in the book when the witty and unselfconscious voice that made her so charming in EPL resurfaced, I found the overall tone of this book to be much more reserved and decidedly less engaging. I can imagine it's much harder to write openly about intensely personal issues once you know that millions and millions of people will read what you wrote, but those few moments in the book when the less guarded Gilbert did shine through made this loss seem even more pronounced.

Still, I don't regret having read this book. Gilbert is nothing if not intelligent, and her meandering exploration raised a number of interesting points that caused me to think about my own marriage in new ways. Her status as an affluent and childless woman may make her positions less accessible to those in more typical family circumstances, but for those wishing to participate in a thoughtful and at times entertaining discussion of marriage, there is value to be gained here.
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Reading Progress

January 14, 2010 – Shelved
February 21, 2010 – Started Reading
Finished Reading
March 13, 2010 – Shelved as: essays
March 13, 2010 – Shelved as: memoir

Comments (showing 1-5)

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message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica so you're going to give this one a shot as well?
I'll let you read it and look for your review

Lena I'll do my best. There are 64 people ahead of me for our library's 5 copies, though, so it's gonna be a while ;-)

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

In E.S.T., Good Morning Lena!

Thank you for elucidating the type of book Elizabeth Gilbert portrays in her book, " Commitment", etc.
I, personally do not enjoy rhetoric, used in the classical oratory sense, because every book gets it's hype
and we as readers are more likely looking for a more constructive and resourceful suppositions that only books can do Essentially, I want to be sold on what is inside of the book and not our ethics and bank account.

I just started reading her latest fiction novel and because personally I enjoy , because I have a first hand love and experience with botany, science and business, I find a home within the current read . Ms. Gilbert is brilliant, I find, as she uses her botany to metaphorically mirror the fictional tale of Alma. I'm completely enthralled. However, I did not enjoy and attempt to read EPL because I, personally didn't find common ground at that time in my life when it was first unveiled calendaromtically and was turned off with her absolution and stalwart position that emanated within her absolution dealing with a common socialistic supposition we females experience personally.

By all means, if your life is as hectic as mine, please note that she has written Gilbert has published two fiction novels and Anna Quindlen's memoir, "Lot's of candles, Plenty of cake". Please disregard however, if this isn't your ilk of reading.

Further, I appreciate the fact you use discretion, distinction along with your personal impression without disclosure. :-) Lisa

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Dear Ms. Lena,
I can't edit the double because in my comment and ask for your understanding that I'm currently suffering a virulent flu and my husband kindly kept interrupting about domestic chores, but I hope you can glean my point without pretense.

Thank you again,

message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

There is more than because, it needs editing all over the place. So sorry.

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