The institution of marriage may seem like a rather dry topic for a book, but not when the author is Elizabeth Gilbert. Last week, at a Southeast Portland theater full of mostly thirty and forty-something women, I listened to Gilbert discuss her latest book “Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage.”
Those familiar with “Eat, Pray, Love” will remember that Gilbert began that memoir—an international bestseller and soon-to-be movie starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem—depressed and depleted after a bitter divorce. She then traveled to Italy, India and Indonesia—eating, praying, and finally, loving again and more deeply, it seems, than ever before. At the end of that book, she had found emotional healing, found herself, and found love in her new relationship with her Brazilian boyfriend, Felipe, who is 17 years her senior.
“Committed” continues with the story—a lovely love story in fact—of “Liz” and Felipe. When Felipe faces deportation, the couple learns that marriage is the best solution to Felipe’s U.S. visa problems. There’s one major problem, however: They have both sworn off marriage after ugly divorces. Yet, as Gilbert explains, they vowed in a holding room at the Dallas-Fortworth airport to marry each other despite their hesitations about marriage in general. During their year-long engagement, as they hop-scotched around the globe waiting to get Felipe back into America, Gilbert learned as much as she could about marriage.
“Committed” is not only a heartwarming love story but an exploration of the ideas, traditions and expectations of marriage in Western culture. Gilbert’s witty voice makes it all seem like you are talking with one of your best girlfriends. I especially enjoyed the chapter where Liz and Felipe share their not-so-attractive qualities with one another, both agreeing that they can accept each other’s flaws, the whole package if you will, without hesitation. The ability we have to love each other despite our flaws, Gilbert writes, “is a human offering that can border on the miraculous.”
“Committed” is available now at a bookstore near you.
### Erika Weisensee, a booklover, writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.