In the follow up to Eat, Pray, Love (2006), Gilbert examines her reluctant marriage to Felipe, the Brazilian businessman she met at the end of her post-divorce travels, and considers her doubts about the institution of marriage.
After the narrative of her previous book ended, Gilbert and her beau moved to the United States, promised never to get married and set about building a life together. Immigration law soon intervened, however, when Felipe was denied entry to the country. The only solution was marriage, and the memoir recounts how the couple was “sentenced to marry by the Homeland Security Department.” Both Gilbert and Felipe, however, had deep reservations about matrimony—some philosophical, some personal. The author narrates the months spent traveling abroad while waiting for the government to process the requisite paperwork, as well as Gilbert’s quest to interview people from different cultures regarding marriage. She also delves into contemporary research on matrimony, divorce and happiness. In Southeast Asia, Hmong women don’t have the same expectations about emotional fulfillment in marriage. “Perhaps I was asking too much of love,” writes Gilbert. Her mother, we learn, loved raising children but profoundly regretted the loss of her career: “If I dwell on that too much, honest to God, I become so enraged, I can’t even see straight.” Gilbert provides a variety of grim statistics about marriage, her thoughts on gay marriage and a “rant” on gender inequity and social-conservative constructions of the institution. Presented in the author’s easy-going, conversational style, the material is intriguing and often insightful. However, readers may wonder if Gilbert has actually made her peace with marriage, despite the nuptials at the end. “Forgive me then, if, at the end of my story,” she writes, “I seem to be grasping at straws in order to reach comforting conclusions about matrimony.”
A vaguely depressing account of how intimate relationships are complicated by marriage, divorce and expectations about both. Given Gilbert’s popularity and the state of marriage in America, however, the book is likely to become a bestseller.