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on January 5, 2010
Embarking on writing a major work after the spectacular Eat, Pray, Love, must have been no easy feat. However, undaunted and honest as ever, Elizabeth Gilbert provides an eye-opening and thorough account of the colossal entity we call marriage. We have all grown up accepting marriage as a given. It seems to be taken as common place that people simply grow up and get married- and then (of course) live happily ever after. Or is it that easy?

Not so fast, Gilbert warns us. Do we completely know what we are getting into? What happens to us as independent beings when we marry? What makes a marriage more likely to succeed, and what makes it more likely to fail? What are the economic, social, and legal ties that bind us and do we even understand the significance of them? How are we able to somehow throw love in the mix as well? Extremely timely and pertinent questions with serious implications. Some of the most interesting and thought provoking aspects of the book- a glimpse into the lives of the Hmong women in Asia (who view marriage not as a solution to all of life's problems and seem to have no qualms whatsoever about this), how marriage was viewed by different religions throughout the centuries- not always so 'sacred', and the way marriage has been used to secure money, power, and property throughout history. Quite simply, Gilbert explains this institution has been pulled, prodded, and changed for centuries- yet still it remains. There is something, then that draws us still to marry. Gilbert (thrown rather harshy into marriage by the US government) walks away with a brokered peace with marriage and a deeper understanding of what it means to be married- as she embarks on her own marriage. The reader has a deeper understanding as well.

As a final note, what is more important if not the subject of who we spend our lives with? Who we share our faith, time, children, money, and precious moments with? As a new mother who married five years ago at the age of 24 (I know this puts me into the danger zone :), this book has given me fuller understanding of what it means to be married and coming to respect my own marriage as an imperfect, changing, and totally lovable creature- much like my own baby son. (Quite simply, the white gown and endless talks about the church and reception hall didn't really matter- the chats we had about faith, child-rearing, navigating our political differences, and in-laws definitely mattered.) It has once been said that 'The unexamined life is not worth living.' Gilbert's book suggests that perhaps an unexamined marriage is not worth having- and I'd agree.
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on January 8, 2010
"Committed" is a natural sequel to EPL. Elizabeth Gilbert's EPL is her path to recovery from divorce.

Most folks who have been divorced are highly reluctant to trot down the aisle again. . .will we be more successful this time?

Gilbert and "Felipe" were broke and broken at the end of their first marriages. They were gun-shy until the INS got out the shotgun.

The book is equal part examination of how the US government can create havoc in people's most intimate relationships as it is an examination of what it takes to have an enduring marriage and to experience unconditional love and true intimacy.

If you are looking for a starry-eyed romantic look at love, this isn't the book for you.

But, if you are serious about creating an enduring, mature, loving, intimate relationship, this book will give you much to ponder and discuss with the love of your life. It would be an excellent gift for any engaged couple.
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on January 6, 2010
I loved this book. I admit that as an Australian who recently married an American after a whirlwind long-distance courtship that ranged from Papua New Guinea to Kenya, Committed gave me a lot to recognize and not a few things to laugh at. However, I don't think you have to be a globetrotting reckless romantic (or, on the other hand, someone deeply wary of marriage) to enjoy this book, and to learn from it. The story is cleverly structured by the necessity of a government-mandated "shotgun wedding". The reflections on the history and meaning of marriage and committed relationships are inherently interesting. I appreciated the lens she turned upon her own life, and I think Gilbert is at her best when she's sharing reactions and interactions that spring from her closest relationships. I was left wanting more, of everything. (Lisa McKay, author of My Hands Came Away Red).
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on July 28, 2010
And guess what? That doesn't make it a poor book only a different one. Can everyone who read Eat, Pray, Love and are considering reading this one please understand this one point? Look, if you're anything like me and love books you'll invariably find authors every once in awhile that resonate or appeal to you. Very often when this happens I'm apt to look a little more into their background to find out where they're coming from. This is always an interesting exercise and in the case of Miss Gilbert her background as a magazine writer, mostly for men's magazines informs her style. Thus Last American Man was written very much as a reportage of what she saw. Eat, Pray, Love recounted her adventures in finding herself after a difficult relationship and divorce. For those expecting another such book I think it's a little unreasonable to expect Miss Gilbert to be revisiting something she's presumably resolved.

Committed is the natural extension of this journey as she finds a man, falls in love and begins quite naturally to question all that we as a culture heap on the concept of marriage and being committed.
Having reached middle age and lived her life up to this point largely as a single woman she brings to the examination a more mature and balanced viewpoint than is currently popular in so many reality shows which continue to belabor the old canard of a "fairy tale romance". Not that these don't exist but romance and marriage just like infatuation and love are all very different things and Miss Gilbert deftly addresses these along with many of the cultural trappings that surround the institution of marriage. Hers is a fairly thorough but never tedious overview of how different cultures define male and female roles, expectations and dynamics not only today but through history. The issue of children, to have or not have them is one that many couples should read before embarking on yet another commitment all on its own!

All in all a very interesting read, an active reflection by a woman who is facing a choice many of us make or have made at early stages of our lives but who now looks at them through more mature and dare I say more sober eyes. Are some of her views unorthodox? In some cases 'yes' but that's precisely what makes them refreshing. My wife and I read it together finding it raised many interesting topics for discussion. I would recommend Committed to anyone who's in a relationship, married or not. A book worth reading is one that hopefully raises challenging issues - Committed is one of those books.
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on October 6, 2013
Gilbert takes the reader that extra step as she examines actual beliefs about marriage and its effect on loving relationships. She relates her study to her own situation, of course, but allows plenty of mental white space for the reader to insert his/her personal story and bounce it off the history in the book. I'll go back to this book over and over again.
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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2010
I enjoyed Committed, although I'll readily admit, it's a book I probably would not have read if it hadn't been by the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert's name (and fame) hooked me and consequently, I learned a whole lot about marriage that I otherwise would've missed. I enjoy Gilbert's fresh style and I like the way she synthesizes. Gilbert, in my opinion, is first and foremost a dedicated researcher who gleans information from historical research (The Rutgers Report, Marriage for Moderns, Holmes-Rahe Scale, scientific and political texts), philosophy, literature, and (not surprisingly) religion. She has a way of integrating snippets from all of her sources that enhance interest and she draws conclusions that are stimulating. She lightens what could be a heavy experience by weaving her personal story and humorous anecdotes throughout. For instance, when a bride to be asked her mother, "Do all brides feel this terrified when they're about to get married?" The mother replies, "Only the ones who are actually thinking." Gilbert has a keen feel for the type of humor that results when we recognize truth. Toward the end, she admits, "This entire book...has been an effort to search through the complex history of Western marriage until I could find some small place of comfort in there for myself." She obviously has succeeded in her quest because she was finally able to "relax into (her) own acceptance" of marriage. And via Committed, I believe that others can possibly gain insight that will enhance their "own little corner within matrimony." Good job, Liz, and may all be well with you and your "One."
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on January 19, 2012
I loved this book so much that I have read it 3 times and have since given it to my sister and my friends. I love Liz Gilbert's writing style, honesty, humor and candor. Marriage is a very touchy subject for a lot of people and I find her brave for taking it on from her own point of view and tackling her own concerns and fears about marriage. She voices many points that I have grappled with and thought about myself. The conversations that she's had with her friends and loved ones are very similar to the ones that I have had with mine.

I find the negative reviews that I have seen here very harsh and unwarranted. Liz's way of going about making peace with something that she was unsuccessful at in the past and analyzing why it wasn't in order to ensure a different outcome the 2nd time around makes sense. It's more than what most people do when they are contemplating marriage at all. They just jump in w/out thinking or having any kind of critical conversations with their soon to be spouse.

I found the research that she did on marriage eye opening and compelling. This book has made for some great conversations with my husband and in my circle of friends and family. In the end, I think the main point is about opening up the conversation about what you think the definition of marriage is. Asking yourself what are your expectations, what role do you see yourself as well as your partner playing in it? These are things that need to be discussed way before the proposal comes along. It is sad that for most people, these things don't get talked about until there is already a problem in the marriage.

Even if you don't agree with her take on it, the important thing is that it gets you thinking and talking about what you do believe, which is important for you to know first and foremost before you bring somebody else into your life and ask them to share it with you.
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on January 11, 2010
Having read Eat, Pray, Love three times (!) some might consider me an Elizabeth Gilbert junkie. I just love this woman's voice. I love the way she peels back her shell and lets us listen in to her monkey mind/internal dialogue -- neurosis and all. I love that I now feel like I know Felipe/Jose and that I've been given a seat of honor at family events. I'm sure there will be plenty of critics for this book but I won't be one of them. This was a totally enjoyable read. I would suggest that anyone considering marriage sit down and read this book -- the messages about the sound reasons one should and should not get married will certainly substitute for all those who haven't a clue what marriage is really about.
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on January 14, 2010
Reading Liz Gilbert is like savoring a long letter from your smartest, coolest girlfriend. Committed is a departure from her previous book (and she's written several other successful books, which allowed her to make the adventure-filled and healing voyages she wrote about in Eat Pray Love).

People generally have strong feelings about Eat Pray Love - they love it or they really don't love it. I first spotted a recommendation for it in Philadelphia Magazine and was later given a copy by a friend who thought I could use it at the time. Boy, was she right. If you can't relate to Liz's struggles and triumphs, you have probably not ever been divorced.

Liz is now fully recovered from her divorce, well, she would say, as recovered as you can be, though it took years. Committed is part sociology and part-autobiography, an explanation of how she ended up married again after swearing off matrimony forever, as did her new partner. She deals with setbacks not only by traveling but by researching - in this case, a good sifting of marriage customs throughout history.

The parts about the women in her family are fascinating examples of what women in different generations have had to deal with as feminism blossomed in the twentieth century. If you have not read Stephanie Coontz's book Marriage: A History (which I keep meaning to), you will find this an eye-opening challenge to common beliefs about marriage, and you will learn how many of them evolved, when the church became involved in marriage, and what amazingly tolerant customs exist in other countries, such as Iran.

Some interesting tidbits: As soon as people stop marrying for pragmatic reasons (such
as family mergers, economics, and community pressures) and start marrying for love, divorce rates soar. Second marriages are not statistically doomed after all. A Rutgers study listing the seven features enduring marriages have in common will have you taking inventory of your current and past relationships. Surprisingly, one element that does not improve a marriage is having children at home -- the study found that higher-satisfaction marriages involve children who are grown or no children.

Another survey noted that the quality young women most want in a husband is his ability to "inspire" them, whereas the wished-for qualities in the 1920s were more commonly "decency" or the ability to provide. And have you heard about the Marriage Benefit Imbalance? It's not good news for women, since marriage statistically puts them behind in terms of health, wealth, happiness, risk for violence, and life expectancy, while doing just the opposite for men. So why do so many women want it so much? The author attempts to answer this too.

Thank you, Liz, for pointing out the common sense reasons for legalizing gay marriage. That only made me like her more.

I enjoyed the unusual format of non-fiction mixed with personal story and look forward to seeing this author at the Free Library. I think I would enjoy anything by Elizabeth Gilbert because of her warmth and wit, her ability to admit her own failings, and her creative ways of tackling both interesting subjects as well as life's challenges.
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on October 24, 2011
Exactly what I was looking for. A compelling reflection on marriage across generations and cultures.

I am recently engaged and reflecting on the type of marriage that my fiance and I want to build. We are both nearing 30 and have built our own separate lives. My parents' marriage (and natsy divorce) leave me doubting my instincts. What happens when two lives become one? How do we let go of our fears and make this commitment, when we aren't sure what a healthy, happy marriage looks like?

Elizabeth Gilbert's attempts to methodically research the institution of marriage and philosophies surrounding it as they pertain to many women's experiences. My fiance and I listened to the audiobook on a road trip and found it an amazing source of conversation for weeks afterward. I had to listen to it a second time, just to really absorb some of the beautiful quotes she came across and ruminate in depth on some of the topics.
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