Summer Read: Committed – A Love Story

Book description [as posted on]:

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 bad 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.

What I expected: 

A self-congratulatory memoir of how Elizabeth and Felipe overcame months of immigration hurdles and setbacks along their journey to attaining happy ever after (in the United States).

What I got instead: 

A memoir, thoughtfully written to help frame a cultural study of marriage.  It’s a magpie of information, a thoughtful analysis of courtships, families, and relationships across numerous eras and cultures, and a story that may veer dangerously close to the edge of boring at times but is never smug or superior.

My advice: 

Committed isn’t for the reader that is hoping to lose herself in a compelling love story, but is a definite MUST READ if you are interested in learning about marriage – what it is and is not, why it doesn’t always work – and are prepared to carefully examine your own assumptions and ideologies about this beautifully shifting concept.

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