The first “love story” is by Elizabeth Gilbert the best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love. That book was on the New York Time Best Seller list for an astounding, 199 weeks, and was also made into a film starting Julia Roberts. Ms,. Gilbert’s new book: Committed A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin 2011) is the apparent sequel (although the author claims it really isn’t). It launches this month.
After you’ve had an unexpected but incredibly lucky break with a best-selling book like Eat, Pray, Love, what do you do for an encore? Write about what you know, of course!
Committed is the second phase in her relationship with Felipe Nunes, the Brazilian businessman she fell in love with in Bali, during her journey of Eat, Pray, Love. Felipe, an Australian citizen, was banned from entering and living in the United States after flying back and forth to visit Elizabeth in Philadelphia too often, on a visa-to-visa basis. During one visit, Homeland Security denied him re-entry and sent him back to Australia. Although neither Felipe or Elizabeth wanted to re-marry thanks to bad divorces that scarred them, marriage is the only way around the problem. So they begin the process of securing a fiance visa for Felipe so he can come back to the United States and be re-united with his true love.
The focus of Committed is less about the love story between Elizabeth and Felipe, and more concerned with the author’s examination of marriage. The author does her “research” by talking to interesting people she meets around the world. Since the process of securing a fiance visa for Felipe, was fraught with delays, red tape,and complications, Elizabeth wrote the book in the gap between the time Felipe was deported from the US, and the time he finally was allowed back into the United States to marry her. They had to meet in exotic locales around the world, so she used the time to investigate the meaning, value and significance of marriage in the different cultures and countries they visited.
I may be one of the only women in America who didn’t read: Eat, Pray, Love. But I also didn’t have preconceived notions about this book, either. I wanted to like it, and I did, in spots. But I don’t think I’d be alone in saying that the book had too many pages that were stiff and rambling –a long diatribe about marriage — what does it all mean? Is it worth it?…. and so forth. The author is a skilled writer and she makes her subjects interesting, but she’s no Margaret Meade. The book is clumsy with amateur “anthropologist” observations.
Committed, reminds me that you can be a good writer, even a great one and once you are rewarded with a huge hit, it still doesn’t mean that your next book will be as great. I’m sure the author will write more books, and some will be excellent, but I got so bored that I cheated and moved around the chapters after I’d slugged it out for the first half of the book. I just wanted to know how things were moving forward (or not) with Felipe because that story is compelling and real. The pondering about marriage, however, put me to sleep.
My L’il Paradise Built to Last by D.A. Koelbransen, was self-published through Authorhouse in 2010. Debbi, a 51 year old with two children, was devastated after being jilted by her lover. But her life took a startling turn when she decided to check out online dating. Apparently, she hit the cyber-jackpot, connecting with another 50-something named Kevin. My Li”l Paradise is the story of how they met and dated online and in person. Then they did something exceptional: they fell in love till “death did them part” in just seven short weeks until Kevin really did pass away! The story is supposedly 100% non-fiction.
I read the book from cover to cover, often squirming at the embarrassingly intimate details of their dates, conversations, love-notes, and even descriptions of their love-making. Since they met online, there were plenty of emails, which the author apparently saved. At times, I felt like a voyeur, even though the author has invited you in through the pages of this self-published book.
My L’il Paradise really isn’t a beautifully crafted book. In fact, the author doesn’t appear to be very sophisticated. Perhaps that is part of the reason she could be bowled over by a man who seemed “nice” enough on the internet and rushed into meeting him., Not long afterwards, he revealed that he had multiple medical problems including HIV (which he had managed for 21 years) and Hepatitis C. That would send many other women fleeing into the hills before the relationship got serious, and physical,. But not Debbi! And, the two seem very happy and well matched, as she chronicles of events from the beginning of her relationship with Kevin during the first few weeks. By the last few weeks, Kevin is in the hospital, gravely ill, and she is rushing back and forth to be with him until his untimely demise from the ravages of liver disease (another avenue that HIV can take on). Incredibly, all of this in just seven weeks from the time they first met!
I kept thinking: “she’s just got to be crazy.” Love can make you do silly things, but the time frame of this love affair is so compressed, it must have felt somewhat surreal, even to the author. After all, if her story is true, she went from a first date, to being a fiance, and then caregiver and accepted as “part of the family” in seven weeks. Reading the gushy, ooey-gooey emails and cards Kevin and Debbi sent each other will make you feel like you’re peering into a teenagers diary, not that of two 50+ year old adults.
My own parents locked eyes across a dance floor when they were teenagers, immediately fell in love, and lived happily ever after. You can fall in love blindingly fast, although it doesn’t happen often. Even though this couple didn’t get a happy ending, it does sound like an amazing experience. Imagine this book as a movie! The message really is that love can happen in various forms, and when you least expect it. The author of this book isn’t bitter or cheated because the love of her life died so quickly, she had a chance to experience something truly magical. How many of us can claim that? All they had was passion, and it might have changed over time, but their relationship never got to the point of bickering over bills. All that is certain is that for this author, an experience of a seven week love affair changed her life
I find it a bit strange that the author of this book highly prizes her privacy, but she wrote this very personal and erotic book. What compelled her to self-publish it if she doesn’t want people to know what she is up to? My guess is that writing down her exploits is writing as therapy to explore her deepest feelings that need to be acknowledged. Additionally, the author says she wrote this book for men, but I don’t think a man would want to read this book. And if they did, they’d be terribly scared. The author uses men without any real love, respect or affection. She gets what she wants, then throws them away when she’s bored.
But back to the book: each chapter describes a different man with whom she has had a sexual relationship. She rarely describes “loving” someone other than to say someone is amusing, and good in bed. By the end of this “tell all” I was exausted by her lust, and the author’s matter of fact description of her sexual exploits, down to descriptions of the anatomy of her male partners. It’s a window into someone’s soul that took me to a place I didn’t want to go.
Julie Spira claims that she was the first of her crowd to put up a personals profile on love@aol (FYI: staff at love@aol coined the phrase “The Advice Sisters” when we were dating experts on their site). Julie appears to have everything going for her: looks, brains, connections, money, a hot body, and a designer wardrobe. What she hasn’t been able to find, is a lasting love. The self-published, The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online (Morgan James, 2009) contains what must be the best-of-the-best, personal “horror” stories from more than a decade’s worth of cyber-dating by the author.
Julie has a personable writing style and the stories are amusing. If you’ve ever had a bad date, you’ll feel better reading about hers. But what I saw behind the basic information about the pitfalls of cyber-dating. are more important messages.
The Perils of Cyber-Dating is mostly about men who have behaved badly, but ladies, take heed: Dating is a process of elimination more than selection (until you find the one you want who wants you back as much). And, online dating isn’t just for busy, successful people. It also attracts a wide variety of shy and socially awkward people who don’t have to be initially, harshly judged in person. While Julie focuses on the men she has met, and what they could have done better to woo her, she doesn’t focus much on what role she might have played in these social interactions. For example, was/is Julie realistic about her goals? She says she wants a wealthy, powerful husband, but most men of this type find their wives through social and business connections, not JDate and Match.com. And, while I loathe age-ism, it does exist. A lot of men over 50 won’t date women their own age. If they do decide to ditch children their daughter’s age for a real woman, they have many great choices. Women of any age must know what they bring to a relationship, as much as what the men they pursue, can give them. I don’t know the author personally, so this is pure conjecture on my part, but after so much online dating, a lot of disappointments and broken hearts, and two failed marriages, maybe Julie doesn’t present the most attractive emotional package to her would-be suitors (and that could be the reason she’s still looking for her real-life “Mr. Big.”)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Perils of Cyberdating, but if you really want to find a lasting love, you don’t want to date hundreds of men as Julie did. That is “bulk dating” and it’s about as appealing as looking for love in a warehouse store! Better by far to be thoughtfully creating a workable plan to diversify your search. Stay open minded and if you can’t, take a break. Adjust your plan if it isn’t working. Dating books can give you some tips, but in the end, a search for love is still a lot of “work” with as many ups and downs as looking for a job!
The last book I am including here is not by an over 40 woman, but by a man over age 60! Bob Kamm is a business consultant and apparently, a poet, who published a very personal book of love poems called Love Over 60: Later the Hour, Sweeter the Moment….(self-published by Bob Kamm, Author House, 2010). The most interesting part of the book for me, was the beginning, where Bob describes how a former client tries to set him up with a woman she knows that she thinks would be perfect for him. Finally, She persists, and 7 1/2 years later the couple meet by email, then phone, then in person. The have huge phone bills (“Love over sixty…just like love at 16…only we get to pay the bills!” says Bob).
When they very quickly meet in person they immediately are smitten, the chemistry, undeniable and powerful. Wow! If you’re over 60 you have a sense that there isn’t much time to waste. Very soon they are traveling together and making vows with rings in Peru. A few months more and they’re living together and looking for a house. Within two years they are happily married.
I wanted to entire book to be about this love story, but it was encapsulated in just 11 pages. The rest of the book is poetry — the 40+ love poems Bob writes to Andrea. They are long, personal, passionate. My mother loved poetry, but it never spoke to me as strongly as other forms of writing (although I am a fan of poet Agron Sela). If I was the recipient of these poems, I’d be flattered, but reading them as an outsider didn’t bring the intensity of emotion I’m sure the author felt when he wrote them, into my consciousness. I give Mr. Kamm high marks for putting his feelings “out there” in any form. If you love poetry, you may be inspired by the book of love, written by someone who lived long enough to know what real love feels like.
Copyright ©Alison Blackman Dunham. All rights reserved. The Advice Sisters is a registered United States trademark. No content may be used or copied without written permission. If you want to use my work, please obtain it legally. For more information, Email Me. You can show your interest and support by subscribing, leaving comments on my posts, and by following me on Facebook and Twitter (@advicesisters). You can also read and subscribe to my National Luxury Lifestyles Column and NY Cosmetics column on the Examiner.com.
*I use provided samples for most of my reviews. Learn more in the “A Note About Compensation” section of the Advice Sisters What Works Beauty, Cosmetics and Fashion Review column