When Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert's self-absorbed and often humorous memoir, hit bookshelves in 2006, many readers devoured her tale of nasty divorce, exotic travels, new romance, and search for spiritual meaning. The book spent 57 weeks at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and you couldn't hop on an airplane or sit in a coffee shop without seeing a copy in someone's hands. A film, starring Julia Roberts, is on the way. By the closing pages of the book, Gilbert had found a new man to love and a sense of the transcendent. She swore, however, that she would never remarry.
Like all of us who swear that we will never do something—and then sheepishly retract it—Gilbert has lived to eat her words. In her second and more pragmatic memoir, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (Viking) [4 stars], Gilbert bumps up against the harsh reality of American visas. If she wants her expatriate Brazilian gem trader, "Felipe" (the name he is given in the book), to continue living with her in the United States, marriage is her only option.
As Gilbert tells it, tying the knot again is a difficult decision. After six years of marriage, her divorce had left her with little taste for wedlock and plenty of fear about trying it again. Felipe, 17 years her senior, is also the survivor of an unpleasant divorce. Together, "we'd been so badly gutted by our experiences that the very idea of legal marriage—with anyone, even with such nice people as each other—filled us with a heavy sense of dread," she writes.
Gilbert talks with friends, family, and individuals from all over the world about marriage, seemingly to bolster her confidence and dispel her fears. These discussions form the backbone of the book. ...