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Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage Hardcover – January 5, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 623 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reviewed by Amy Sohn How does an author follow up a smash international bestseller that has catapulted her from obscurity into fame and riches she never dreamed of? Very carefully. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, Elizabeth Gilbert's first book since the multimillion-selling Eat, Pray, Love, was written so carefully that it's actually her second attempt (she scrapped the first one after she decided the voice was wrong). The good news is her voice is clear and winning. The bad news is the structure doesn't work. Part history, part travelogue, Committed often makes for a jumpy read. Still, Gilbert remains the spirited storyteller she was in EPL, and her central question is a good one—how can a divorce-scarred feminist make a case for marriage?EPL ended in Bali with Gilbert falling in love with Felipe, a hot, older Brazilian divorcé. Book clubs across the country passionately debated her message: Is Gilbert saying I need a man to be happy?; What if I go to Bali and don't meet the love of my life?; and How did a woman who didn't want children land the only Latino hottie with a vasectomy in all of Indonesia? In the year following their meeting, Felipe and Gilbert cobbled together a long-distance relationship; he would stay with her in the U.S. for 90-day jaunts, and the rest of the time they'd live apart or travel the world. One day in the spring of 2006, they returned to the Dallas Airport and Felipe was detained at the border. A customs agent said he could not enter the country again unless he married Gilbert.Gilbert spent the next year in exile with Felipe—straining the relationship—and did a lot of reading about marriage. In jaunty, ever-curious prose she tells us that today's Hmong women in Vietnam don't expect their husbands to be their best friends; that in modern Iran young couples can marry for a day; and that early Christians were actually against marriage, seeing it as antireligious. 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 the author of the novel Prospect Park West.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Sure it garnered starred reviews, but who knew that Gilbert’s memoir about her quest for psychic healing, Eat, Pray, Love (2006), would become what she describes as a “megajumbo international best-seller”? Or that she would be in demand as a relationship guru? Or that her relationship with Felipe, the Brazilian businessman she fell in love with in Bali, would get so complicated? An Australian citizen, Felipe was living with Gilbert in the U.S. on a visa-to-visa basis until Homeland Security denied him reentry. As post-traumatic-divorce syndrome sufferers, they swore never to remarry, but marry they must if they want to be together in the States. This effort involves a humongous amount of red tape and time, so they set off on a rambling trip across Southeast Asia, and Gilbert tries to banish her fears by embarking on a crash course in the history, practice, and meaning of marriage. Her far-roaming inquiry, much of it focused on the paradoxes in women’s lives, is presumptuous and trite one moment (her observations about women in Asia are cringe-inducing) and incisive and funny the next (her portraits of her grandmother and mother are sensitive and scintillating). Ultimately, she tells an irresistibly romantic tale spiked with unusual and resonant insights into love and marriage. --Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021659
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (623 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I adore Eat, Pray, Love for a variety of reasons. This book however, is not Eat, Pray, Love. Thankfully, it doesn't pretend to be. My advice: don't read "Committed" if you are hoping to lose yourself in a compelling story, because you might get bored. Read it if you are interested in learning about marriage - what it is and what it is not, why it sometimes works and why it sometimes doesn't - and are prepared to examine your own assumptions about this beautiful yet fraught concept.

Some readers may not consider this work an adequate sequel to EPL for stylistic reasons - the storyline is simpler, the tone more somber, and the laughs rarer. But I'm not one of them. For me (and I can only speak for myself), EPL was a pleasure to read because it helped me learn more about myself and my relationship to relationships, which is precisely what "Committed" succeeds at doing. What could be more useful than a book that celebrates not only marriage, but the self inquiry and interpersonal work required to sustain one? For that matter, what could be more romantic?
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
"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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and loved Eat, Pray, Love as well as her talk on creativity at the TED conference circulating on YouTube. Her blend of factual information, anecdote and creative interpretation is illuminating and entertaining. And Committed has its share of humor and aha! moments.

In her preface to Committed, Gilbert says she originally wrote a 500-page version of this book, then discarded it. She implies it was too pedantic, so the second time she wrote it imagining only an audience of close women friends. I believe this gives the book a talky, chatty quality that does not translate well to the written page. There are too many "anyways", redundancies and extraneous phrases. If she were speaking this text to us, we could experience her gestures and facial expressions, inflection and dramatic pauses; the audiovisuals of conversation would keep us interested. But on the two-dimensional page, I found myself growing impatient and wishing she had thinned the verbiage by 30 per cent.

I also felt uncomfortable with the amount of very personal information she revealed about her husband and her parents. A confessional approach to one's own life by a memoirist is one thing; to expose and discuss other peoples' intimate feelings and issues seems exploitative.

Another problem was the lack of sourcing for her valuable factual data, particularly, her fascinating material on the evolution of marriage. This information could be very useful to call out the "ancient tradition" excuse for social repression. But without sources, it's much less useful. She did list about 20 authors in one sentence in her acknowledgements but this doesn't help much.
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