18 July 2012

Review: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

First off, I need to explain that when I download an audiobook from the library, I rarely look at the book cover, mostly because it is usually only slightly bigger than a thumbnail image. That is why I did not know that Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage was by the same author as Eat, Pray, Love. I have not read Eat, Pray, Love, and I wasn't particularly interested in reading it after reading Heidi's review. It just didn't seem like something I'd be interested in.

I downloaded and started listening to the audiobook like I do most audiobooks - the title and brief description sounded interesting, and if I ended up not liking the book, I could quit before I was too far into it. I learned pretty early in the book that Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and I became very skeptical, but up to that point I had really liked what I'd heard, and I wanted to keep going. And I did keep going, all the way to the end, and I loved this book.

First of all, I like her writing style. I just like it. Second, it was read by her, and sometimes that totally destroys an audiobook, but other times it is a perfect match. In this case, it was a perfect match. She is a good reader, which isn't always the case. (I'm looking at you, Mr. Mushmouthed Bill Bryson. He's not a terrible reader, but I would have preferred somebody else to read his very interesting book.) Anyway, good writing read by a good reader. We're on the right track.

If you know anything about Eat, Pray, Love then you know it is Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir about recovering from her divorce by gallavanting about Italy, India and Europe for like a year (on her publisher's dime.) Apparently at some point (I don't know whether this is in the book or not) she finds a new fellow and life is glorious again. But she's very opposed to ever re-marrying. So what happens?

In short, the new beau is not an American, but the couple wants to live in America. They manage to do this successfully for some time by the beau getting a travel visa and leaving the country every three months. Only, one time he leaves and then the security folks won't let him back in. This was right after the 9/11 attacks, so security had been tightened. The couple was told, in essence, that the only way to get him back in the country, either temporarily or permanently, was to get married. Only Liz doesn't want to get married. She has given up on the institution altogether.

This book documents her own studies on marriage and her eventual ability to adjust to the fact that she is going to remarry. By no means did I agree with everything Liz wrote in her book. She draws some conclusions that definitely had me raising an eyebrow. But, I really liked her writing, and I really liked this book.

She talks about the history of marriage through western cultured (which is fairly skewed in my opinion), and marriage in other parts of the world. She talks about a lot of statistics about American marriages, and that was really interesting as well.She also talks about her grandmother and her parents. I really loved those parts. I also loved the parts about feminism and how it has affected marriage. (It reminded me of Gail Collin's book that I read a few years ago.)


heidikins said...

I think I am too badly burned by Ms. Gilbert to ever pick up another book of hers, although I have heard several people (who's bookish opinions I respect) say they liked this book MUCH better than Eat, Pray, Love...so there's that.


Erin Gong said...

Yes, I too was very against Eat, Pray, Love. I did enjoy her writing style. But I fundamentally disagree with the notion of finding yourself by spending a year of someone else's money living completely for yourself. Her values were just too different from mine and it sort of drove me nuts.

Also, I did get sort of bored halfway through the India-yoga chapter. But really, yoga by definition is sort of the death of plot.

Janssen said...

I basically refuse to read this, just on principle, because I found her so ridiculously unlikable in Eat, Pray, Love.