This sequel to Eat, Pray, Love, Committed (subtitled "a skeptic makes peace with marriage") chronicles Gilbert's "forced" exploration of this ancient agreement. Forced because both she and Felipe, the man she met and loved at the end of her travels, committed NEVER to marry after both experienced devastating divorces. That is until Homeland Security denied entrance to Felipe. Their only option if they wanted to live in the US was to get married. Because her terror of losing Felipe surpassed, just barely, her terror of matrimony, she left the US with him, traveled SE Asia, and waited on paperwork to marry and grant Felipe entrance.
She writes:...the two of us having effectively been sentenced to marry....perhaps it would be wise to put a little effort in to unraveling the mystery of what in the name of God and human history this befuddling, vexing, contradictory, and yet stubbornly enduring institution of marriage actually is.
And that's what she did....the only thing I thought about, the only thing I read about, and pretty much the only thing I talked about with anybody was the perplexing subject of matrimony....What I really wanted,, more than anything, was to find a way to somehow embrace marriage to Felipe when the big day came rather than merely swallowing my fate like a hard and awful pill. Call me old-fashioned, but I thought it might be a nice touch to be happy on my wedding day.
What follows is Gilbert's reflections on what she learns
- from a historical study of marriage
- from listening to as many people from various cultures as she can about their views of marriage
- from her own 21st century western biases.
Of all the women, it was Mai's grandmother whom I found most immediately intriguing. She was the laughingest, happiest, four-foot-tall toothless granny I'd ever seen in my life. What's more, she thought me hilarious. Every single thing about me seemed to crack her up beyond measure. She put a tall Hmong hat on my head, pointed at me, and laughed. She stuck a tiny Hmong baby into my arms, pointed at me, and laughed. She draped me in a gorgeous Hmong textile, pointed at me, and laughed.
I had no problem with any of this, by the way. I had long ago learned that when you are the giant, alien visitor to a remote and foreign culture it is sort of your job to become an object of ridicule. It's the least you can do, really, as a polite guest.
I'm halfway through this book in less than 24 hours and loving every part of it.