Elizabeth Gilbert's 2006 memoir about her post-divorce soul search-and-rescue, spent 57 weeks as a New York Times paperback best seller, inspired a movie starring Julia Roberts (out next year), and paved the way for a hotly anticipated follow-up. In this month's Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, Gilbert conducts an informal survey on the institution during a 10-month visit to Asia with her boyfriend, as they plan a green-card wedding so he can settle with her in the U.S. Some highlights:
· NOTHING SAYS "I LOVE YOU" LIKE A PRENUP. Gilbert and her fiancé happily drafted one, having decided it was better to discuss grim points, like the division of marital assets, while in the dewy stages of the engagement, rather than under the purview of lawyers should things fall apart. "We shared some truly tender moments during these conversations," Gilbert says. "Especially when we would find ourselves arguing on behalf of the other person's best interests."
· CHILDLESSNESS IS A BLESSING. Gilbert seems to relish this stat from a recent study: More couples with young children said they were "disenchanted" with their marriages than did childless couples and empty-nesters. She and her fiancé embraced their own decision not to procreate with zeal: "That relief—the great thrumming relief that we felt when we discovered that neither of us was going to coerce the other into parenthood—still sends a pleasant vibrating hum across our life together," she writes.
· LUST IS FOR SUCKERS. Scorched by the reckless romances of her 20s, Gilbert spent her early 30s willfully alone. Now she and her fiancé thrive without googly eyes or sweaty palms. "By this point in my life, I have figured out that he cannot complete me, even if he wanted to," Gilbert declares. Austere ruminations like that make us wonder why, exactly, she's chosen to marry again, and Committed feels, in part, like a she-doth-protest-too-much justification. But Gilbert has given the antiquated institution a thorough once-over, and the clear-eyed primer is a must-read for any modern woman contemplating a trip down the aisle.