Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. . .


Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert | LibraryThing

Gilbert, E., & Penguin Audiobooks. (2010). Committed: [a skeptic makes peace with marriage]. New York, N.Y: Penguin Audio. 9780143145752

Soon after I finished Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, I wanted to know what happened with Liz since her previous memoir. Luckily, I found what Gilbert calls Eat, Pray, Love’s companion memoir in audiobook format at HCPL.

Spoiler Alert (If you anticipate reading Eat, Pray, Love, then do not read this review)

Towards the end of her previous memoir, Liz met Felipe. Felipe, a Brazilian man with Australian citizenship living in Bali, survived his own bitter divorce. So, when he and Liz began their romance, they agreed to remain monogamous without legally marrying.

Their arrangement suited both of them pretty well; Felipe would stay with Liz in various United States locales for the weeks alloted him. Then, Felipe would leave and return on the next visa. This all ended when the U.S. government denied him entry.

Confronted with the reality of legal marriage so Felipe could dwell again in U.S., Liz and Felipe find themselves on the move in Southeast Asia, awaiting Felipe’s permission. During this time, Liz delved into researching the institution of marriage. Her discovery led to this memoir.

Liz’s work is impressively thorough and exhaustive in Committed. At some points, her doubt pervaded her writing, lending to its authenticity. While I don’t agree with her on numerous points and am virtually clueless on other issues she raises, I considered this a good read.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Setting: United States, Indonesia, Southeast Asia

Song:  Modern Love – David Bowie (1983)‬‏ – YouTube

You might also like:

  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  • It Takes A Nation by Rebecca Blank
  • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

 For more on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed. . ., check out the following:

Top Ten Best Debut Books | Top Ten Tuesday


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers’ answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND post a comment on our post with a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post to share with us and all those who are participating. If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. If you can’t come up with ten, don’t worry about it—post as many as you can!

NEXT WEEK THE TOPIC IS: Top Ten Characters I’d Name My Children After. Click HERE for a list of future Top Ten Tuesday topics.

Top Ten Best Debut Books (of any year..just your favorite debut/”first from an author” books. If you want, you can focus on debuts of a specific year but it’s open to debuts of any year).

* Since I’m suffering from severe congestion at the moment, I’m only listing my picks. Please ask why I chose them and I’ll explain when I’m feeling better.

  1. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  3. Sense and Sensibility by A Lady (Jane Austen)
  4. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  5. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  6. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
  7. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  8. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
  9. La Princesse de Clèves by Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette
  10. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening


Audio Book

Audio Book

*1001 Books Book

Chopin, K., & O’Karma, A. (1987). The awakening. Charlotte Hall, MD: Recorded Books.

When perusing the audio bookshelf at my library, I saw The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Remembering comparisons to Flaubert’s Madame Bovery, Tolstoy’s  Anna Karenina, and part of Lahiri’s The Namesake, I readily grabbed the audiobook. With the soft-spoken narration of Alexandra O’Karma, I soon enjoyed The Awakening.

The Awakening begins in late nineteenth century Grand Isle, Louisiana, a resort for the New Orleans “who’s who.” The lovely and intelligent wife and mother of two, Edna Pontillier focuses intently on her conversation with Robert Lebrun. Edna’s husband, Léonce, looks upon her as a cherished possession and so Edna basks in the attentions Robert, the grown son of the owner of the Grand Isle resort.  Growing up in a Protestant home and converting to Catholicism in order to marry Léonce, Edna is much the outsider. No matter how much she spends time with friend Adèle Ratignolle, Edna’s disconnect and discontent pushes her into a metamorphosis or awakening all of her own. Once Edna rises from this deep slumber that has been her life, she strives to capture personal happiness in late nineteenth century New Orleans.

I liked many aspects of this book. Chopin captures the life of Edna Pontellier so well. Additionally, both heroine and writer are women. Where Flaubert and Tolstoy felt sympathetic towards their respective heroines, Chopin portrays more empathy for Edna Pontillier. Also, Chopin’s characters clearly stood out in my mind.

I did not like the resolution of the story, though. What happens in the end is quite debatable and I will leave it for future readers to interpret. Does Edna Pontillier triumph? Let me know what you think. . .

Four out of Five Pearls Places: Grand Isle, LA; New Orleans, LA, Kentucky

For more on Kate Chopin’s The Awakening:

What’s in a Name? The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri


 

Goodreads | The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

*1001 Books Book (2008)

Lahiri, J. (2003). The Namesake. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 0618485228

Young Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli have come from Calcutta, India to live in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late 1960s. Ashoke is an engineering professor at MIT and Ashima is desperately homesick and pregnant. In 1968, Ashima finds herself going into labor and she gives birth to a son in an American hospital. The Gangulis await a letter from Ashima’s grandmother to arrive; one which will have the name for their son. The grandmother has not told anyone the name. This is a Bengali tradition. Somehow, the letter becomes lost before reaching the Gangulis in Massachusetts and the grandmother dies. Another Bengali custom is to give children a pet name as well as a formal one. However, the pet name of Gogol (namesake of the Russian writer) becomes the formal name of the Gangulis’ son. Being an Indian American and the namesake of a Russian writer further complicates the experience of the first generation American in his search for identity. Throughout the rest of the book, Gogol struggles to find himself as a person who has one foot in his parents’ Bengali existence and the other in the pervasive land of his birth, America. Gogol even reaches the point of trying to solve his “name problem.”

The Namesake definitely tells of the Asian Indian experience in the United States. While the story is delivered in third person, most of the narrative is seen through the eyes of protagonist, Gogol Ganguli. A couple of key parts of the book are spent with Ashima Ganguli and these capture the confusion of a person in unfamiliar territory.Yet, it is Gogol and his younger sister, Sonia, who teach their parents about American traditions such as Christmas. Later in the book, Gogol faces further issues of bridging the gap of East and West. There are numerous events within the book where Ashima is hosting a party where Indian food is served and enjoyed in great proportions. As an adult, Gogol compares the experience of eating dinner with the Gangulis to that of dining with the family of a Caucasian woman he dates as an adult. Another element not to be missed in the book is the arranged marriage of Ashoke and Ashima versus marriage for “love” at which the American Gangulis seek.  

I decided to read The Namesake because it illustrates a contemporary immigrant experience in addition to one of a first generation American. When the reader is with Ashima, he or she sees life of a bewildered and lonely woman in a strange place. Then, Gogol shows what it is like to be the link between India and America for his parents. I found both Ashima and Gogol to be sympathetic characters making the best of their respective plights. These two are good hearted and well-intentioned. Also, the Gangulis and most of the other characters in this book were very easy to recognize for me and I am not Bengali. I learned a whole lot about some Indian traditions and moral dilemmas (i.e. vegetarianism, celebrating Christmas, etc).

Not only would I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about Bengali life in America or readers looking for an experience similar to their own, I would suggest this to anyone who enjoys good literature. Jhumpa Lahiri’s characters and situations are very realistic and encourage readers to consider the answers to questions like “Who am I really?” and “Am I defined by my family or my name?” This is a great read for patrons wanting something a little different and edifying. Also, fans of Madame Bovary and ironic situations would appreciate this book. I do not imagine the Christian fiction audience would like it much due to bad language and sexual situations. This is not a light, fluffy book, either. I would be excited to encourage anyone else to read The Namesake.

4.75 out of 5 Pearls