Committed (Gilbert)

Book Reviews
By the end Gilbert had…convinced me that "the book that I needed to write was exactly this book." Because really, in the wake of Eat, Pray, Love, wasn't she damned if she did and damned if she didn't? If this book were too similar to that one, some readers would say it was repetitive. If it were a complete departure, other readers would say she ought to have stuck to what she does well. By bringing along some elements, like exotic international locations, and leaving behind others, like a certain emotional rawness, she will no doubt displease those who will think she brought along what she should have left behind and left what she should have brought. But I'll bet most fans of Eat, Pray, Love will be quite content, book clubs nationwide will have a grand time debating Committed, and even those of us with grouchier dispositions—including those of us who review books—can appreciate the closure of knowing that Gilbert and Felipe live happily ever after.
Curtis Sittenfeld - New York Times


This story is essentially journalism, written by an extremely competent journalist. It doesn't pretend to be anything more than that. It's a charming narrative that ends, Shakespearean-fashion, with a happy-hearted wedding. What's not to like?
Carolyn See - Washington Post


Committed is an unfurling of Gilbert’s profound anxiety about reentering a legally binding arrangement that she does not really believe in. All this ambivalence, expressed in her high-drama prose, can be a lot to handle.... Ultimately, Gilbert is clear about what she, like most people, wants: everything. We want intimacy and autonomy, security and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills. But we can’t have it. Gilbert understands this, yet she tries to convince herself and her readers that she has found a loophole. She tells herself a familiar story, that her marriage will be different. And she is, of course, right—everyone’s marriage is different. But everyone’s marriage is a compromise.
Ariel Levy - New Yorker


It's all fascinating stuff, but ultimately Gilbert is more interested in the history of divorce than marriage. The reader can feel both her excitement when she tells us that in medieval Germany there were two kinds of marriages, one more casual than the other, and her rage when she recounts the ill effects of the Church on divorce as it "turned marriage into a life sentence." For all of its academic ambition, the juiciest bits of Committed are the personal ones, when she tells us stories about her family. There's a great scene involving the way her grandfather scattered her grandmother's ashes, and a painfully funny story of a fight Gilbert and Felipe had on a 12-hour bus ride in Laos. The bus is bumpy, the travelers exhausted, and both feel the frustration of not being able to make a home together. They bicker, and she tries and fails at a couples-therapy technique, and a "heated silence went on for a long time." Later in the story, when she is hemming and hawing about the Meaning of It All, he says, "When are you going to understand? As soon as we secure this bloody visa and get ourselves safely married back in America, we can do whatever the hell we want." I am happy for Gilbert that she did a lot of research before tying the knot again, but she already did the most important thing a gun-shy bride can do: choose the right mate. (Amy Sohn is author of Prospect Park West.)
Amy Sohn - Publishers Weekly


In the follow up to Eat, Pray, Love (2006), Gilbert examines her reluctant marriage to Felipe, the Brazilian businessman she met at the end of her post-divorce travels, and considers her doubts about the institution of marriage. After the narrative of her previous book ended, Gilbert and her beau moved to the United States, promised never to get married and set about building a life together. Immigration law soon intervened, however, when Felipe was denied entry to the country. The only solution was marriage, and the memoir recounts how the couple was "sentenced to marry by the Homeland Security Department." Both Gilbert and Felipe, however, had deep reservations about matrimony-some philosophical, some personal. The author narrates the months spent traveling abroad while waiting for the government to process the requisite paperwork, as well as Gilbert's quest to interview people from different cultures regarding marriage. She also delves into contemporary research on matrimony, divorce and happiness. In Southeast Asia, Hmong women don't have the same expectations about emotional fulfillment in marriage. "Perhaps I was asking too much of love," writes Gilbert. Her mother, we learn, loved raising children but profoundly regretted the loss of her career: "If I dwell on that too much, honest to God, I become so enraged, I can't even see straight." Gilbert provides a variety of grim statistics about marriage, her thoughts on gay marriage and a "rant" on gender inequity and social-conservative constructions of the institution. Presented in the author's easy-going, conversational style, the material is intriguing and often insightful. However, readers may wonder if Gilbert has actually made her peace with marriage, despite the nuptials at the end. "Forgive me then, if, at the end of my story," she writes, "I seem to be grasping at straws in order to reach comforting conclusions about matrimony."A vaguely depressing account of how intimate relationships are complicated by marriage, divorce and expectations about both.
Kirkus Reviews

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