So, it's been...a while! My attempt at the 30 Books in 30 Days challenge failed miserably, mainly (well, wholly) because I did what I said I wasn't going to do and started reading Committed. It was just sat there whispering 'reeeaaddd meeee, reeeaaadd meeeeee!' and I've wanted to read it for so long that I just gave in to the pressure. Pathetic, I know. Anyhow, dya know like I said I didn't want to rush it? It turns out that I couldn't have rushed it if I'd wanted to. Man, that book is hard work!
For anybody who isn't familiar with Liz Gilbert, she is the author of Eat, Pray, Love, which is perhaps my favourite book ever. Here's the Goodreads summary...
Published: February 2006 by Viking.
Find it on Amazon here.
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.
I actually wrote a little piece about this book on my personal blog (which you can find here, if you're interested), so I'm not going to talk too much about it here. I just think that everybody who hasn't already read it, should! It's a book about finding who you are in the world, and what you believe in and (at the risk of sounding really corny), it helped me a lot when I was asking myself these questions (still is helping me, too!)
So anyway, Committed is the sequel, and here is the description, again from Goodreads;
Paperback version published by Viking in February 2011.
Find it here on Amazon.
At the end of her bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert fell in love with Felipe, a Brazilian-born man of Australian citizenship who’d been living in Indonesia when they met. Resettling in America, the couple swore eternal fidelity to each other, but also swore to never, ever, under any circumstances get legally married. (Both were survivors of previous horrific divorces. Enough said.) But providence intervened one day in the form of the United States government, which—after unexpectedly detaining Felipe at an American border crossing—gave the couple a choice: they could either get married, or Felipe would never be allowed to enter the country again. Having been effectively sentenced to wed, Gilbert tackled her fears of marriage by delving into this topic completely, trying with all her might to discover through historical research, interviews, and much personal reflection what this stubbornly enduring old institution actually is. Told with Gilbert’s trademark wit, intelligence and compassion, Committed attempts to “turn on all the lights” when it comes to matrimony, frankly examining questions of compatibility, infatuation, fidelity, family tradition, social expectations, divorce risks and humbling responsibilities. Gilbert’s memoir is ultimately a clear-eyed celebration of love with all the complexity and consequence that real love, in the real world, actually entails.
Huge description I know, but here are my thoughts:
I absolutely adore Liz Gilbert and I think she is an amazing writer, but if I'm completely honest, I found this book a lot of hard work. I know a lot of people who couldn't finish Eat, Pray, Love for the same reason (the India section in particular is a struggle for most people), but I got so involved in the story and the journey that Gilbert was on that I didn't mind that it dragged in some parts. Committed however, is a different story (literally).
Committed does exactly what it says on the cover; it examines every aspect of marriage from every angle. Like I said and like the description says too, Gilbert tackles the tricky subject in an amazing way - and I personally think she's an incredibly intelligent and witty writer - but for me there's something missing. Gilbert admits that she is no expert on marriage, and everything she writes about -other than her own opinion- is based on research she has done and people she has discussed the topics with. There are a lot of theories, and a lot of opinions (which, I know, is the whole point of an in-depth study), but for me (and it seems Gilbert, too) that there's too much. There was a lot of theory in the first book too, but also a lot more narrative. This book has a lot more theory than it does actual narrative on the events of Liz and Felipe's ten month exile. For me, though the whole subject of marriage and the reason behind the study obviously linked to their impending wedding, without being let in on their journey as much and being able to link back the theory to what they were going through at the time, I hate to say it but to put it bluntly; I didn't care at times.
I feel disloyal to Gilbert and to Eat, Pray, Love just saying that though! I just think that there was so much theory and different, contrasting opinions, that I ended up becoming tired and confused, and it was clear that Gilbert was too. Like I've said, with the first book I got so insanely involved in the story that I began to believe I was actually there myself. I was so on the same page as Gilbert, that I could identify with her journey and feel her emotions. (I'm sorry, I know that was incredibly cheesy.) With Committed however, there was no sense of journey. They went on a literal journey, but I couldn't see any clear emotional journey happening within Gilbert. After all the theories on all the different subjects, she ended up just as confused as I was, and seemed to just give up trying to work out how she felt. There was no 'OH!' moment, which I have to admit I was kind of disappointed by.
Don't get me wrong though, I still think this book is fantastic. It's also very interesting, and has made me question a lot of ideas I had about marriage (not that I have much experience in that department myself!) It also has a happy ending -which I am a sucker for as a hopeless romantic-and I cried floods at the airport scene. (Sorry for anyone who hasn't read it -but let's be honest- we're warned how it's going to end from the beginning!) So although it has taken me almost two weeks (!!!) to read, and has left me quite exhausted, I did enjoy it and I think that everybody should read it, if only because Gilbert is extremely talented and will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
Overall, I give this book: