Sunday, September 26, 2010

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, reviewed by Judy Samuel

I started reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, the acclaimed author of Eat, Pray, Love, as my new husband and I were flying to Hawaii for our honeymoon. I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear I didn’t finish the book until after returning to Toronto.

I hadn’t planned on reading the book at all, because I thought it was going to be a belaboured work on whether to commit or not to commit. I’m glad my friend ventured to say it’s better than Eat, Pray, Love, which I also enjoyed.

While reading Committed, I felt like I was having scintillating, late night conversations with a kindred spirit – but one much more knowledgeable and mature than I am. For the three days that I took to read this book, I kept spouting the book’s contents to anyone who would listen.

The book recounts how the author and her new life partner met in Bali. They were both divorced and saw no need to marry again until the U.S. government suddenly mandates marriage for them – he is no longer allowed to visit her in the U.S. if they don’t marry. Finding no other way to live together in the States, they decide to get married.

They go to Southeast Asia so they can wait together for their papers to be processed without breaking the bank. There, the author busies herself with learning as much as possible before her second marriage, because the first marriage she blissfully walked into hadn’t worked out for her. The author investigates the informal beginnings of marriage, its evolution, and its impact on society and on couples themselves. She does this by seeking truth among the people she meets during her travels and through relevant events and theories she uncovers in her research.

The author’s first book, Eat, Pray, Love, follows the her quest for happiness and inner peace after her divorce. Committed is something of a sequel. It cleverly keeps you hooked while covering a multitude of related social topics such as inter-racial marriage, male-female roles, nuclear families, gay marriage … and the list continues!

Judy and Eric
Hope you enjoy the book. I found it a refreshing read. People have been asking my husband Eric and I, newly married a month ago, whether things have changed for us since our marriage. People are curious because we’d been living together for five years.

His answer is that nothing has really changed, except that it makes a difference for our parents and grandparents. They know that they are now forever bound by our formal commitment to each other. I say that I’m really happy we celebrated our union.

However, the funniest thing to us is that we are definitely looked upon as a different animal in society. It was very clear that the customs and immigration officials saw us differently when we were travelling to and from our honeymoon. Before getting married, when we declared ourselves as a family living at the same domicile, we generated some confusion, more questions and different directions from different people. Answering, “Yes, we are married,” moved us along much faster and seemed to make the customs officials happier.

Funny that a couple who might have had a fly by night wedding the day before have a chance of getting more respect than a legally un-married couple who might have been through thick and thin together for decades.
Judy Samuel is recently married and lives with her husband, Eric Lau, in Toronto. Reading has been her passion since as far back as she can remember. She also loves languages, travelling and fashion. She comes from a brand management and business background.

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  1. Interesting review of book and commentary on societal attitudes!

    I didn't last through reading the first book but did manage to see the movie--wrote a post about it in my blog at .

    After reading your review, I think I will give the second book a try!


  2. The title "Committed" originally put me off. Not that there's anything wrong with commitment, it just sounded a bit smug, the book wasn't grabbing me, and it seemed that Elizabeth Gilbert was riding on the coattails of her success with "Eat, Pray, Love," a book I adored. After reading your review, I will definitely give it a second look.


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