Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What are you reading? - Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

I consume books. I am a regular at my local library and it’s a good thing for my wallet that it is there. I like to share books that I have really enjoyed so I thought I would feature a book here on the blog every now and then. Today’s book is Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I got this book because I loved Eat, Pray, Love – as in read it twice – loved it. This book picks up where the last book left off. Gilbert is travelling the world with her Brazilian by way of Australia lover. Their globe-trotting lifestyle comes to a halt when her lover’s entry into the United States is denied because he has used one too many tourist visas. The options before them are basically to marry or find a new county to call home. Since both his business and her writing require a US residency - marriage it is. The book takes us through her journey “to make peace with marriage”.

Where Eat, Pray, Love felt more like a journal, Committed showcases Gilbert’s writing chops. She traces marriage through the centuries using the lens of her experience with divorce and then trying to avoid it. Her writing is what makes this journey a pleasure as she tries to find some study or culture that will magically make her okay with marriage. I found the history fascinating as it refuted a lot of what is believed about contemporary traditional marriage.


She ends up okay with marriage when she truly becomes okay with her relationship and her role in it.

"Anyone can love the most wonderful parts of another person. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner's faults honestly and say 'I can work around that. I can make something out of that.' Because the good stuff will always be there ... It's the crap underneath can ruin you…. There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, to love them almost despite of the themselves."

Near the end of the book, she is trying to decide between a "Get it Done City Hall" wedding or bowing to her sister’s pressure to have a family wedding. This rang pretty close to home. My fiancé and I had briefly flirted with the idea of a beach, some parents, a few brothers and sisters and a justice of the peace, but we quickly bowed to the idea of a large traditional wedding and I am so glad we did. I realized that it did take a village to raise me. My wedding was a time for all those folks who had held my hand, patted my head, shared my triumphs, worried about me, prayed for me and were always wondering what crazy thing I was doing to next – it was their time to rejoice at the good job they had done. Walking down the aisle and seeing the joy that was pulsing through me reflected on their faces was intense. It was something I had not anticipated and it blew me away. It was a triumph to stand up and say “I do” with them as my witness because they all had been my witnesses for everything – the good, bad, and ugly (think 80s hair).

The fact that this book was able to draw such a powerful memory for me was a sign that Gilbert did something right. It is not Eat, Pray, Love. But in many ways, Gilbert finds a new voice in this book – a voice that she struggled to find in Eat Pray Love.

1 comment:

  1. I loved EPL and was so excited to read Committed. I listened to it, actually, on my cross country drive. As a divorced person myself I completely understood her misgivings. I hope that one day I feel at peace with a decision to remarry.