“Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert

  • Sun Aug 15th, 2010 9:00am
  • Life
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Committed” is part memoir

Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Committed” is part memoir

Is it cheating to say I have read a certain book when actually all I did was listen to the audio recording?

Probably, but you know what? I don’t care. I am a total convert to the medium and here is why: It allows me to listen to stories that I otherwise feel I have no time for.

As an ex-English literature student I am still an aspirational reader. When I pick up a book I feel it should be sober, classical and probably depressing. I am embarrassed that I have not read “War and Peace” or “In Cold Blood.”

So, even though I am generally too tired at the end of the day to even pick up such tomes, these are the kinds of books that lay on my bedside table. Pretentious, I know, but that’s the way it is.

Until I discovered the audio book. I recently listened to “Committed,” the sequel to the best selling memoir “Eat Pray Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Read by Gilbert herself, the book picks up where “Eat, Pray Love” left off.

I had “accidentally” cast my eye over Gilbert’s memoir when stuck in Victoria for 24 hours without “War and Peace.” Thus I knew about the emotional, soul-seeking narrative and how it ended with Gilbert coming to terms with her divorce and falling in love again. I left it behind in Victoria and though that was that. Back to Tolstoy.

The problem was, I really wanted to know what happened next, which is where the audio book came in.

Essentially, the story picks up two years after the close of “Eat, Pray, Love.” Gilbert and her Brazilian partner, in the book known as Felipe, have fallen into a comfortable routine whereby Felipe lives with Gilbert in the States until his visa nears expiration. When this happens he simply leaves for the appropriate period of time before renewing it, returning to Gilbert, and starting the process all over. They are both the victims of bad divorces, and so any further commitment is repugnant to both of them.

However, their cycle of comfort is broken when Homeland Security catch Felipe reentering the country and, put simply, throw him out. The only solution, as one of the officers holding Felipe points out, is marriage. And there is the tension of the book. Two people, to whom marriage has become a forbidden concept, must reconcile themselves with the idea that it is their only option.

There follows an account of the couple’s time spent traveling in South East Asia killing time while Felipe’s application for a Fiance Visa is processed. Unlike “Eat Pray Love,” this second helping of Gilbert memoir is interspersed with historical research. Gilbert devles deep into the history and cultre of Western marriage, trying to accept the prospect of marrying again.

This creates a nice tension in the narrative. I find Gilbert can become a little emotionally long-winded at times, and, as opposed to “Eat, Pray, Love” where this constant flow of feelings went unchecked, now it is tempered with history and fact.

So the thoughtful passages about couple’s doubt, and their increasing longing for home, is interspersed with fascinating portions of marital history, evolutionary facts and speculations about the future of marriage.

I don’t think it is an overly “female” book, the doubts about commitment Gilbert raises are as relevant to any man contemplating marriage as a woman. I also don’t think it is age restrictive. Gilbert is in her 40s, but her thoughts about marriage are those I’ve addressed with my friends in their 20s.

The great thing about having it in audio book form was that is slipped into a busy day in the way that reading never can. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read, but a day fills up pretty fast leaving very little chair-and-book time. With “Committed,” however, I could “read” or rather “listen” anywhere.

So I have found my ultimate escape, from the busy day, and from the responsibly of reading “War and Peace.”