'Eat, Pray, Love' author visits about love, marriage and storytelling


March 29, 2011 at 9:01 p.m.
Updated March 28, 2011 at 10:29 p.m.

Author Elizabeth Gilbert, once phobic about marriage, now wears two bands on her left ring-finger.

"This one's very pragmatic and this one is very romantic," she said, wiggling the two.

The romantic one, made with a green Brazilian gem and tiny rubies, she got from her Brazilian husband during a commitment ceremony in a hotel room. It symbolizes their undying love. The other, a simple wedding band, came as part of their legal marriage, which was a last effort to keep the two in the country together.

"Marriage is this curious intersection of the very romantic and the very pragmatic, and I guess this represents both of those entities," she said, looking at the rings. "The pragmatism tends to keep things together, but you want to not lose this either."

Marriage and love - mixed with eating and traveling the world - are part of Gilbert's expertise. She's the author of the mega-selling book-turned-movie "Eat, Pray Love," a memoir where she travels the globe to search for healing from a bitter divorce, and a second book, "Committed," a well-researched account of the fascination surrounding marriage and her own experience with the ritual.

She now lives in Frenchtown, N. J. with her husband, who she met through her travels.

Gilbert, who will speak at Wednesday's Victoria College Lyceum series, sat down Tuesday night to talk about her life.

Do you think you would have experienced your world travels differently if it hadn't been for your book deal?

"Writing about something forces you to pay so much closer attention than what you would have other wise, and I think I would have floated through it - and had been like, oh that's neat - forgotten half of what was going on and not asked myself the rigorous questions that I felt I was obliged to because I was telling this story. I wouldn't have known how to experience it as deeply without writing about it. Writing is how I figure out how I feel about things. Writing is how I figure out what I know. And a lot of things happened not in the moment but later on that night when I was writing about it and I had realized what I had learned. It's almost like the writing makes it more real."

Q: Since the success of your books, have you contacted your ex-husband?

"I haven't and I don't wish him any ill. It's good news for me to report that he has remarried and he has two children now and a great job in a field that he's always wanted to work in and it really wasn't a marriage that was working for either one of us. I wasn't capable of giving him what he wanted and he went and found that elsewhere and seems to be having a really good life."

You could have changed your memoir to really create whatever story arc you wanted, how did you feel about ending your book right back with another man?

"I fell in love with somebody at the very end that was the last thing that happened on that trip. Believe me, I don't think I've ever said this, but as I was falling in love with him I was thinking, "Ah, man this is going to look really contrived." I actually considered ending the book prior to meeting him you know - drawing it to a close - so that it didn't happen. But reality was I -very unexpectedly, unbidden and without seeking it - found a wonderful person and that's where we ended up and I had to tell what happened."

So, now that the books are done, what are you doing these days?

"I'm working on writing fiction again, I'm going back to, I think, more the life that was interrupted whenever it was that my marriage started to fall apart. I'm sort of wrapping up something that started 10 years ago. Now it's time to come back to the quieter life of just diligent writing and not be as much of a public figure but a private figure.

You're writing is so open. Which do you like more, the public life or the private?

"Private. Which is funny because I would've thought at one point of my life that this would've been the greatest thing. but I don't need to feed it anymore. Somebody asked me the other day what would be the most surprising thing people need to know about you, and it's probably how much I love being alone and how little of it I get. If not alone, then just with my husband and the cats and the dog."



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