What happens when a woman who vows never to remarry is forced to do so, or lose her lover forever? This is what happened to Elizabeth Gilbert, the journalist of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame when she was forced into an engagement to her foreign lover by Homeland Security. In “Committed”, two divorced skeptics of marriage but who are committed in love face their fears when Gilbert’s mate exhausts his welcome mat of U.S. visa entries to visit his American sweetheart.
So, thus begins the odyssey of Gilbert and her fiancé towards a marriage that they both would rather avoid. As they wait on the fiancé visa in foreign lands, Gilbert explores her skepticism and reluctance towards marriage. She explores this issue in the most obvious way a journalist possibly can: by reading about its history, and interviewing people, particularly women, in foreign lands about what marriage means to them. It is a personal journey, intersected with the history of what marriage has meant to women over time, and what it means now to an American Generation X woman the second time around, especially as one who has vowed to remain childless.
I read Gilbert’s bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love”, and I personally didn’t like it all that much. To me, the narrator seemed forced and unnatural in most of the story. As a person who likes to review newer books and contemporary literature, the only reason why I gave “Committed” a chance is that it coincided with the film version of Gilbert’s previous memoir. Refreshingly, instead of narcissism posing as travel lore, Gilbert chooses to employ a more journalistic tone that has just enough of a personal touch to it that it sounds like a person soul searching through others. I actually found this book, with its more anthropological theme, more emotionally honest than “Eat”. The format of altering history with how she interacts with others seems to be a more comfortable form of memoir for Gilbert. I could relate and empathize with her much more in this memoir than the previous one. Her simple honesty inspired me to take look at my own life, which certainly would be a compliment to any memoirist.
“Committed” is an engaging read for any person who is interested in the social history of marriage and its impact upon society over the years. I also recommend it for anyone who is wondering about their own relationship and marital choices and would like a fellow traveler for support. I don’t always personally agree with the author, but her point of view is thoughtful and well researched, both intellectually and emotionally. “Committed” is a decent portrait of what marriage has evolved into during the twenty-first century.