“Eat, Pray, Love” Author Elizabeth Gilbert Takes On Marriage

Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, was published in 2006, and her followup book was touted in the back of at least 200,000 copies of the book. Tentatively titled Weddings and Evictions, it was described as a memoir about Gilbert’s “unexpected journey into second marriage” and was supposed to hit shelves in 2009. But Gilbert scrapped her 500-page draft of the book and told her publisher she needed more time. What she had wasn’t working.

Because Eat, Pray, Love had been such a huge success, staying in the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list for 57 weeks, Viking wanted the followup to come out as quickly as possible. But her editor gave her another year, and this second draft, now called Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage will be published in January. The delay wasn’t such a bad idea, in my opinion, since “Eat, Pray, Love,” the movie version starring Julia Roberts, Billy Crudup, and Javier Bardem, is currently filming in New York City, and Gilbert is back on everyone’s minds.

A book about marriage wasn’t Gilbert’s original idea when she signed a two-book deal with Viking following the publication of Eat, Pray, Love. She had thought she wanted to write about creativity for her next work of nonfiction, but that changed when boyfriend José Nunes (Felipe in Eat, Pray, Love) was detained when he tried to reenter the United States after a trip to France. The couple was told marriage would be the easiest way for him to gain legal residency, but both of them had been burned in the past and had said they never wanted to marry again.

Gilbert and Nunes spent the next 10 months traveling the world, waiting to reenter the States, and Gilbert spent time exploring the institution of marriage. She did this by “trying to discover through historical research, interviews, and personal reflection what this stubbornly enduring old institution actually is,” states a press release for the upcoming book.

Perhaps because so many people gush about Eat, Pray, Love, I haven’t been able to read the book. It always seemed a little preachy to me; “I changed my life (and found a new man) by leaving my life behind and traveling the world, and so can you!” But would Gilbert have had these experiences if she hadn’t been a writer who had already received her advance for Eat, Pray, Love before she ever boarded a plane? A person’s experiences will most certainly be different when she knows she’s going to be writing about them in a book that will end up in a bookstore rather than in a diary that will sit in a drawer.

But this new book intrigues me. I’ll be curious to read what she discovers about marriage, because I think a lot of people, myself included, have doubts and questions about the institution. Gilbert must have figured a few things out about the subject because she’s married again, even though she had said that would never happen. [NY Times, LA Times, Elizabeth Gilbert FAQs]