Reviewed by Collette Yvonne
In 2008, Time Magazine named Elizabeth Gilbert to its annual list of 100 Most Influential People, an extraordinary distinction for any writer let alone a woman who is occasionally described in the media as a chick-lit author.
From fiction to nonfiction, in whichever genre she chooses, Elizabeth Gilbert is a tough act to follow. After her success with Eat, Pray, Love, a mega-bestseller published in more than 30 languages, she found herself struggling to write a follow-up that might please her many hungry fans.
“How in the world does one go about writing a book that will satisfy millions?’ she writes in the introductory notes to her latest offering, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. According to Gilbert, she had but one option: to write the book she needed to write.
As a woman afraid to sign a legal contract, after the disaster of a first marriage, Gilbert’s preoccupations have to do with the question of how to reconcile her private misgivings about marriage with a very decided need to remarry: her common-law husband, a foreigner from Brazil named Felipe, faces permanent deportation from their chosen home in the USA, unless the two are prepared to make it legal in the eyes of the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Continuing the saga that she began with her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert relays the next chapters of her fascinating globetrotting lifestyle with a healthy portion of socio-historical commentary on the institution and mores of marriage. Just for some cross-disciplinary fun, she throws in some politics, religion and a few wedding-related tips and party tricks too.
Never one to be dull, Gilbert has done plenty of research and laid out the best titbits of her discoveries on the altar before us: What is this thing called marriage and why do we bother? Who benefits? Who is allowed? And just who invented all this knot-tying nonsense anyway? What about religion? And most important: will the Hmong women of northern Vietnam kiss and tell?
“Committed” is a fascinating second act written with Gilbert’s trademark wit, insight and sparkling personality: don’t leave home and get hitched without it.