Thursday, February 3, 2011
Book giveaway: "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert
**Giveaway is now closed**
We are doing a giveaway with Viking/Penguin books and one lucky reader in the US or Canada has a chance to win "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is now on paperback!
Here is more information on this follow up to "Eat, Pray, Love":
COMMITTED begins where Gilbert’s # 1 New York Times bestseller "Eat, Pray, Love" ended—just after she fell in love with Felipe, a Brazilian-born man of Australian citizenship who’d been living in Bali when they met. Resettling in America, the couple swore eternal fidelity to each other, but also swore to never, ever, under any circumstances get legally married. (Both were skittish divorce survivors.) But providence intervened one day in the form of the U.S. government, which—after unexpectedly detaining Felipe at an American border crossing—gave the couple a choice: they could either get married, or Felipe would never be allowed to enter the country again.
Having been effectively sentenced to wed, Elizabeth and Felipe spent the next ten months wandering haphazardly across Asia, traveling with limited resources and waiting for word from their immigration lawyer as their case languished in bureaucratic uncertainty. Gilbert used this time to ponder the subject of romantic commitment, interviewing everyone from housewives in Vietnam and Thailand to family members and friends, and looking closely at how the institution of marriage has evolved to reflect our social needs and how it is so often intertwined with religion, politics, class, and money.
COMMITTED tells the story of one woman’s efforts to make peace with marriage before she enters its estate once more. Told with Gilbert’s trademark wit, intelligence, and compassion, it frankly discusses issues of compatibility, infatuation, fidelity, tradition, economic realities, divorce risks, and social expectations. Myths are debunked; fears are unthreaded; historical perspective is found; and romantic fantasies are ultimately exchanged for vital emotional compromises. In the end, Gilbert’s book is a clear-eyed celebration of the complexity and consequence that real love, in the real world, actually entails.
Lindsay Prevette, the publicity manager at Viking/Penguin, put together an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert. Here are a few of the items they discussed:
Q: When we last encountered you, you had just concluded your journey across Italy, India and Indonesia in Eat, Pray, Love. At the end of that story you fell in love with a man in Bali named Felipe. It is that very relationship that led you to write this new book, COMMITTED. Can you give us some background—why did you want to write this book?
A: As any author can tell you, there are books that you want to write, and books that you need to write and COMMITTED definitely falls in the latter category. Because the United States Department of Homeland Security got involved in my love story with Felipe, the stakes and terms of our relationship changed overnight. Suddenly the two of us—two very marriage-averse divorce survivors—had been basically “sentenced to wed” by the government. I was hoping to make peace with those new terms—to essentially study my way through the history of marriage until I could find a way to be OK with the fact that I was entering that institution again, and the best way I know how to really get granular and intimate with a subject is to write a book about it.
Q. Which myths about marriage, either personal or cultural, were most difficult for you to dispel in writing and researching this book?
A. I don’t think I went into this project overburdened with dewy-eyed romantic myths about marriage (my divorce had pretty much wiped those out years ago), but I did carry an instinctive prejudice that marriage is an artificial construct of “society,” invented as a tool of repression by states and religions. In truth, the story is far more complicated than that. In fact, it wasn’t states or religions that invented the notion of marriage, but individuals and families, who wanted to create some sort of special protective bond that would be recognized and respected by everyone in the community, within private intimacy could be tasted. What shocked and amazed me was to discover, in fact, how vehemently repressive governments and institutions (Soviet Russia, for instance, or the early Christian church) battled against marriage, trying in the most idealistic phases of their evolution to break down the natural bonds of love and family in order to exert more control over the populace. Seen in such light, marriage starts to look appealing and subversive to me—but, of course, I lean that way, and so of course I would find that exciting.
Q. The notion of “tiny acts of household tolerance” is a beautiful and spiritual way of thinking about partnership. In your own life, how does your spirituality intersect with marriage?
A. Everything I have ever learned about life—spiritual and otherwise—helps me to do better within this marriage than I have in past relationships. I think this is part of the reason that marriage is so ill-advised for young people: With rare exception, most twenty-two year olds simply haven’t been sanded down or humbled enough by life’s experiences yet to have acquired the wisdom and perspective that make long-term human intimacy possible. But yes, certainly the lessons of a sincere spiritual quest have been awfully helpful in negotiating the challenges of running a household—with the most important lesson of all being that I am, at the end of every day, responsible for my own state of being. I doubt that there is a more important tool of cheerful companionship than that truth.
Q. As a sequel of sorts, COMMITTED follows up the fairytale romance of "Eat, Pray, Love" with some stark realities, including the bureaucratic proceedings of the Department of Homeland Security. Was it difficult, as an author, to switch gears and take on this less romantic subject matter?
A. I like to say that the difference in tone between "Eat, Pray, Love" and COMMITTED is the difference in tone between romance and marriage. "Eat, Pray, Love" is, in every way, a romantic story, full of escape and longing and sensual exploration and even the shimmering thrill of emotional imbalance. Such a tone was appropriate to that year of self-exploration, because that’s what it was like. I was overcome during my Eat, Pray, Love journey by a sense of daring, of soaring possibility, and such expansion was exactly what I needed, in order to reinvigorate my life after a period of loss and sorrow. But I daresay that marriage demands of us a slightly more pragmatic temperament. And the events that precipitated COMMITTED were so especially serious (you could say that Felipe’s and my romance ended the minute the men in the Homeland Security uniforms handcuffed him and led him away) that a sense of sobriety and level-headed focus was really called for in this situation, in order to handle things wisely. That same sense of sobriety and focus, I think, informs the overall tone of COMMITTED. It wasn’t painful or limiting to write the book in such a manner; it just felt accurate and appropriate to both the subject and the situation. Anything else would have felt like a lark, which would not have benefitted anyone, least of all me.
Thanks again to Lindsay Prevette for sharing this interview with Elizabeth Gilbert and also for offering the book to give away.
How to win "Committed":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Tuesday, February 8th at midnight EST.