Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Last night was my book discussion group that I lead at the library. We had previously read Elizabeth Gilbert's first book, Eat, Pray, Love,  the account of the author's own year- long personal voyage towards healing after a bitter and miserable divorce. Committed is a sort-of sequel to that book, in which she is struggling with the idea of marriage to Felipe, the Brazilian man she meets in Bali at the end of Eat, Pray, Love (in the "Love" section, of course).  While they have made a commitment to stay together forever, neither wants to get married again. But Felipe is not a U.S. citizen and when he is not allowed back in the country, they are forced to consider marriage if they want to be together. During a year in exile while they try to sort out the bureaucratic issues before they can even get married, the author begins exploring the history and sociology of marriage, reading books written by experts, interviewing people of different cultures throughout Southeastern Asia, and studying the marriages of her family and friends. This book is really the author's meditation on marriage and her coming to terms with making the decision to marry again. I thought the book was okay, not great, and I was greatly surprised how many people in our group really liked it.

One of our regulars, a man who was divorced after 20 years, felt it was a thoughtful look at marriage and the complications of divorce and he liked how the author was taking such a careful look at marriage.  Another couple (the husband is 85, the wife maybe mid-70s) read it together and appreciated the author's in depth analysis of marriage and felt that it would be a good book for young people to read who are considering marriage. Coincidentally, this couple first met in Bali when he worked for an international company and she was the daughter of a Bolivian diplomat. They just celebrated their 50th anniversary and both were so articulate and forthcoming with their thoughts. They are new to our group and we all liked them!  We discussed arranged marriages and why they are so successful, and what marriages mean in other cultures.

A few people did not like the book at all, found the author annoying and egocentric. Why does she have to analyze everything, she overthinks, she whines, etc.  I felt a little of that, although as someone who overthinks things, I should be more sympathetic. Others appreciated how open the author was with her feelings. All in all, most thought it was a good book and worth reading. It was another interesting discussion and always a surprise to see how everyone sees things differently.

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