Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I've been planning to read Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert for a long time. I loved Eat, Pray, Love (dodges) and wanted to read Gilbert's next offering, but for some reason or other I never got hold of a copy. The other night I was browsing audiobooks to download and this one was available, so I jumped on it.

If you've read Eat, Pray, Love, you're aware that Gilbert's journey through the world and self-reflection was in part spurred by her nasty divorce. Due to her terrible experience with ending her first marriage, she is reluctant to enter into a second marriage despite finding love again. However, when her not-American lover is denied entry into the United States due to his frequent visits (apparently it looked suspicious) they resign themselves to marriage, and because Elizabeth Gilbert is a writer and journalist, she decides to research the institution.

So here's the thing. I love Elizabeth Gilbert's writing voice, and I enjoyed listening to her actual voice in this audiobook. There are times when I listen to her and feel like I would love to be her best friend, to go out to lunch and just talk about life. And then there are times when I find her incredibly obnoxious, because she is so biased and so certain that she is right. Our world views on marriage are definitely very different, and there were times when I found myself responding to the audiobook -- "No, that isn't the way it is! That's not what marriage is about!" However, her perspectives really spurred thought for me, and her anecdotes are always interesting. So while I didn't always agree with what was said in this book, I did enjoy this book, and it did enrich my life.

The thing that mostly bothered me about Gilbert's ideology was that she kept descrying marriage as a hindrance to getting what you want, to being your most fulfilled self. I don't see getting everything you want as a pathway to happiness or fulfillment; I think sacrifice is important. I think the point of marriage is to learn to give things up and show love for each other rather than finding someone who does everything you want and allows you to do everything you want. She seemed so worried about losing herself, about having to sacrifice any part of her life, and to me that is the point of marriage -- learning to sacrifice and develop because you love somebody. Does that mean it is easy? Of course not. But I guess our attitudes are just very different.

But, like I said, it was interesting. I don't read to have all my own ideas reaffirmed to me -- I read to learn about the world. Even if what I'm reading doesn't change what I think, it is good to know what else is out there. And there were also points she made, historical facts and cultural experiences that were fascinating.

So -- don't read this if you expect an unbiased history of marriage or a to-do list of how to have the perfect marriage. Do read it if you would like a little social commentary with a side of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoirs.

(I don't rate books that I disagree with on a fundamental level because I just don't know how to reconcile everything, so no rating here)

Warnings: Language, some pretty clinical discussion of sex

1 comment:

  1. Hmm...I think a lot of the things that bothered you would bother me too.

    If you're looking for more along these topic lines though, there are quite a few essays about successful and failed marriage in Ann Patchett's This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage.


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