Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

We heard Elizabeth Gilbert speak at the IU Auditorium last fall. The audience was filled with middle aged white women like me who had fallen in love with her and her writing after reading her travel memoir Eat, Pray, Love.

She did not disappoint. She has a wonderful self-effacing wit and warm demeanor. She spoke eloquently about her writing and her romance. I leaned to my friend sitting next to me and said, "I feel like she is speaking directly to me." My friend replied, "No, she is speaking to me."

Of course, someone in the audience asked her what she was working on. How does someone top an international bestseller like One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia? She told us she was writing a book about marriage and commitment as she had recently become married to her true love after vowing never to be married again.

Eighteen months later, I walked into Borders and there she was piled high and wide in a bright orange cover: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.

I had heard Gilbert interviewed on NPR a few days before, and her sensibility as a writer sounded clear and charming. She confessed in the interview to having been completely finished with her book and ready to mail it off to her publisher when she got cold feet, realized it was not what she wanted to say, put the draft in a drawer and started over again. Doesn't this seem astounding?

I found Committed to be part memoir (a continuation of her love story with Felipe), part marriage manifesto, part feminist pronouncement and part self-help marriage manual. I loved every part of it. Gilbert's writing is clear and funny and convincing. It was what drew so many people to Eat, Pray, Love.

This really is a book for women, and it is a book about marriage through the ages and what marriage can mean for women. One part that took my breath away was her recounting of her Grandmother Maud's story. Equally as impressive was her own mother's story, and I got a little teary eyed at the end when she finally reunions with her lover after some weeks apart. As someone who endeavors to write myself, I feel like Gilbert makes the act of writing seem so easy and so profound.

Make no mistake, this is a very different story than the book that brought her so much attention, but the writing and the ideas and even the story are as captivating and worth your time as ever. I give this many stars.


Steph said...

I can't wait to read this! Thank you for the review.

sweetcakes said...

It's packed in my suitcase, in hopes of some good reading time during the next 3 days. :) Thanks for sharing!