“Committed” is Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow-up to her smash hit “Eat, Pray, Love.” Shockingly, I haven’t actually read her first book, as I am limited to getting new books from the library currently, and with the movie coming out, they can’t keep it on the shelves. From what I’ve heard, Committed is focused on a different trajectory than her first book.
In order to fully disclose, I must say that I had been reticent to read “Eat, Pray, Love.” When things become smash hits, I tend to stay out of the fray and read reactions, in order to gauge whether a social phenomenon will be worth my time (see: Twilight). Sorry Twilight lovers, I’m not on board. But after reading “Committed” I’m definitely going to try out “Eat, Pray, Love.”
Committed focuses on the sociological, economic, and political impacts and history of marriage. Gilbert uses her own life to make her points, but also has done an incredible amount of research into all avenues of marriage in order to thoroughly investigate her subject. Interestingly, one of the first realizations she comes to about marriage in other areas of the world, is that in many other cultures, marriage is not placed “at the center of [their] emotional biography.” That is in direct opposition to the Western World, where, as Gilbert says, “if you ask any typical modern Western woman how she met her husband, when she met her husband, and why she fell in love with her husband, you can be plenty sure that you will be told a complete, complex, and deeply personal narrative which that woman has not only spun carefully around the entire experience, but which she has memorized, internalized, and scrutinized for clues as to her own selfhood.”
Gilbert admits that she can’t separate her own upbringing as a Western woman from her view of marriage, but this book delves deeper into the decisions behind marriage more than any other that I have read on the subject. Most wedding books thrown at women (none of them are aimed at men) are directed to help them choose the perfect dress, the best tablecloths, and the perfect caterer. But not many are aimed at helping them examine the motivations and issues behind getting married.
I also really enjoyed the section examining marriage’s relationship to Christianity, modern as well as ancient. As a person who was raised Lutheran (and then born-again Christian) and who now identifies as secular Humanist, I loved hearing a different take on historical Christianity than I had heard all my life.
Gilbert’s book is fantastically introspective, while being scholarly and well researched, and therefore earns high marks from me. I enjoyed this book immensely and will definitely be looking for “Eat, Pray, Love” on my library shelves.