Thursday, March 4, 2010

Committed. A Skeptic makes peace with marriage

A Skeptic makes peace with marriage
By Elizabeth Gilbert

When an author has a previous best selling book like Eat. Love. Pray. which goes on to break best selling lists, and be made into a motion picture movie starring Julia Roberts in the lead role, which is based on the author herself, any book that follows up is bound to be under great pressure. Something that the author herself acknowleges right at the start of the novel.
And right off the bat, I would like to say, Elizabeth Gilbert would have been better off had she left it at Eat Pray Love. Committed is the kind of book that shows the effort put into it. At the best of times, it drags. Is patchy. Needed a good editor to go through it with a finetoothed comb to unravel the tangential skeins that the author seems to be weaving a tapestry of tales of marriage the institution across continents and cultures, as she and her Brazilian beau travel all over in their bid to be together. The narrative jumps between her efforts to stay in a relationship that is precious to her, while confronting the demon of marriage, which they must go through if they are to be together, because the US immigration views Felipe's constant trips to the US with suspicion.
What seemed like an ideal relationship with no marriage (both Elizabeth and Felipe being divorce survivors and therefore terrified of the institution of marriage) must now morph into marriage, and Committed, as the subtitle goes is all about Gilbert's attempts to examine the institution of marriage across eras and cultures. And a very patchy thesis does she do on it.
Sadly, the voice of Eat. Pray. Love., the quirky self deprecating, fun voice of a woman recovering from a painful divorce and her trip around the world to heal herself, ending with meeting Felipe in Bali, the voice that captivated every woman reader who saw herself in Gilbert is not the same in Committed. It is a different voice. But then, Gilbert is now a different person. And while it stays in the realm of charming, easy reading, it lacks the straight from the heart quality that set Eat Pray Love apart.
What does redeem Committed is that it does make a strong case for marriage, despite the author's own painful divorce and the statistics for divorce going around. And yes, she does have the wedding at the end of the book, a wedding, where aptly the groom spends most of his wedding day in the kitchen with the apron on, cooking for the guests. (I'd like one of these please!). After all, arent we all suckers for a happy ending.

Reviewed by Kiran Manral

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