Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).
Like millions, I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I then read Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage and reviewed it for the newspaper I was working for at the time. I’d gone through a relationship breakdown just prior to this, so there were certainly things I could relate to in both books – even if I never had the luxury of taking time off to find myself. When I was approached to read Committed Undone, a self-published memoir by Elizabeth Lowrie (the first wife of Elizabeth Gilbert’s now husband, Jose Nunes), I was intrigued. Basically, it’s her rebuttal to claims that her divorce was “very, very bad” or “horrific”. That’s not how she saw it, so you can imagine the hurt she felt once the shock passed. Here’s the blurb:
It is not a good year for Elizabeth Lowrie. Everything she is committed to is being undone: her work, the day-to-day responsibilities of family and a commitment made to the ex.
In the process of considering whether or not to retire, Elizabeth’s world begins to fall apart when Elizabeth Gilbert publishes Committed, the sequel to her best seller Eat Pray Love. In Committed, Liz and her new beau “Felipe” are described as survivors of ‘very very bad divorces’. This is a huge shock to Elizabeth, Felipe’s ex-wife: she had always believed their split had been gracious.
In order to try and make sense of the chaos around her, Elizabeth embarks on the trip of a life time – to move “the energy” to a better place and to make decisions about her future. She explores what a professional woman considers when retiring.
This is the story of Elizabeth’s journey of healing from her initial feelings of grief and betrayal to finding inner peace and compassion. It is an 18 month memoir of personal, emotional and spiritual growth as Elizabeth white water rafts down the Grand canyon, meditates for six weeks in Brazil and travels across Canada by train.
This is Elizabeth’s truth.
There is no doubt that Committed Undone comes from the heart. Lowrie had to accept that a huge publicity machine would make it difficult to confront Gilbert and Nunes, without creating even more grief to herself and others, so after a challenging “spiritual battle”, she decided instead to write her truth. Some might say it’s sour grapes, others might think “get over it”, but after reading the book, I got the sense that Lowrie simply wanted to set a few things straight, if only for her own inner peace.
This is a possible way forward without grief. All I have to do is write my truth and publish it. That way, my history as I know it will be known. (p178)
The hurt she describes is deep and lingering – late in the book, even after going travelling and taking part in Buddhist retreats, she relates a conversation with a friend who observes, “You’re very hurt, aren’t you, Lizzie?”. She replies: “I am, my dear friend, very, very sad and very, very hurt … especially about the destructiveness of it all.”
One cannot ever imagine the despair one feels when a loving relationship and marriage is falling apart and you are powerless to save it.(p237)
Initially, my interest in reading this came from having read Gilbert’s work. There are similarities in so far as both embark on a journey of self-discovery following difficult times in their lives, but as writers they are on different levels; Lowrie’s writing is at times disjointed and loose, and overall lacks the finesse of Gilbert’s writing. It also needs tighter editing. However, leaving aside the writing technicalities, as a woman who has experienced divorce I do sympathise and empathise with Lowrie’s hurt, which comes across strongly, and I sincerely hope that writing this allows her to continue her healing process.
Committed Undone is available from Lowrie’s website: Dream with Insight (RRP $29.99 paperback, $16.99 e-copy). My copy was courtesy of the author via Jam PR.