Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert's thoughts and explorations on marriage and committment, which I read very early this year but hadn't reviewed til now.

Committed could be called a pop-sociology book, so in that sense, I liked it, though the sociology was a tad light on, and freely mixed with personal reflections or opinions of her friends (but that's the intellectual snobbery in me, perhaps.  I am a sociologist, after all, so mea culpa!). Gilbert has some interesting insights into marriage, paired with her personal story, so the book is a decent read, if frustrating and somewhat disjointed at times.

Gilbert is fundamentally ambivalent about marriage as an institution, and seems to go to a lot of effort to convince herself otherwise, when, to be honest, she could just have got married (or not) and been done with it.  The ridiculous requirements of the US government can't be helped, if you need to get married, then perhaps you just should. 

So, I found the agonising premise of the book, needing to somehow be reconciled to marriage as a whole in order to get married, puzzling.  To be honest, if I'd come out of an exploration of marriage feeling as Gilbert did about it, I wouldn't have been getting married.  Because let's face it, they only got married because they were forced to by US immigration laws.  The happily ever after feel of the ending of the book (which, of course, ends in marriage!) didn't match the questing tone of the rest of the work. It felt a bit like a cop out.

But, I enjoyed the book overall, though it's not as compelling as Eat, Pray, Love.  For those of us who have called a truce with marriage (I have been married twice, despite a lack of faith in it as an institution, and having some very serious issues with being married when others are not permitted to be) it's a decent read that raised many of the issues I've had with marriage myself. Probably worth a read if these issue mean something in your life, but I'm unlikely to re-read this one.


This was a IRL book! 

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