Back in 2006, in a little book called Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote winningly about how she survived a painful divorce by meandering around the world. She ate, she prayed, and eventually she found love in Indonesia with a Brazilian-born, Australian-based gemstone importer she called Felipe. Since then, that little book, written in a bright, sharp, inviting voice, has become a global best-seller. Also since then, dear reader, the author married her man.
Committed, Gilbert's follow-up memoir, explains why and how the divorce-scarred couple who previously swore never to mess with matrimony again took the plunge. (The long and short of it is, an immigration hitch barred Felipe from entering the U.S., and marriage to a U.S. citizen proved to be the quickest solution.) This is natural material for a journalist noted for her assertive self-awareness and filled with skepticism about the value of a legal ''I do.'' But something about the subject, perhaps combined with sophomore jitters after such a phenomenal publishing success, has spooked the author. The deeper that Gilbert agonizes about marriage the more she luxuriates in her dithering on What It Is All About the more Committed loses its brightness, sharpness, and sense of welcome. Conducting her own makeshift investigation via further international travel, she draws grandiose conclusions from limited anecdotal input. Over the years, she reports with confidence, Western women all come to see their own love lives as either a ''golden epic myth'' or a ''bitter cautionary tale.''
Assume the researcher's margin of error is 50 percent. The memoirist also has a distracting habit of asking rhetorical questions she might well have answered. ''How do I know for certain that I will never again become infatuated with someone else?'' she muses. ''You see where I'm heading with this, right?'' ''Why am I talking about all this right now?'' But in one instance, at least, Gilbert states the obvious: ''Excuse me for the rant. This is just a really, really big issue of mine.'' That part we believe. C