First comes “Eat, Pray, Love,” then comes marriage for best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, whose latest travel memoir describes her fitful and resistant journey back into matrimony.

COMMITTED: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Viking, 2009, 304 pp., $26.95 (hardcover)

“Eat, Pray, Love” is a tough act to follow. The deeply personal memoir (and soon to be movie starring Julia Roberts and James Franco) touched millions of readers who followed Gilbert as she overcame a painful divorce on a yearlong trip to Italy, India and Indonesia.

This long-awaited sequel is a good effort but comes up a bit short. While most people can relate to a story of recovering from heartache, it’s hard to have much empathy for a woman who finds herself forced to marry her Brazilian lover, who is, by all accounts, the man of her dreams.

The sequel picks up where “Eat, Pray, Love” left off, with Gilbert happily in love with — but legally unattached to — her boyfriend. Both are divorced and fearful of marriage although they are entirely committed to spending their lives together. Then Homeland Security intervenes. Gilbert’s boyfriend is detained at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and denied entry because he had unknowingly made too-frequent trips to the U.S. The couple are advised they must marry to make him a citizen if they ever want to reside in the United States.

The next 10 months are spent bumming around Southeast Asia waiting for their case to plod through the U.S. immigration system and coming to terms with the idea of getting married again.

Gilbert retains her delightfully chatty writing style, but many pages are spent recounting her research on marriage, which starts to feel like a book report. “Committed” is best when Gilbert describes her travels and the people she meets, particularly a young tour guide in Laos who invites the couple to his home for dinner.

But for those that found “Eat, Pray, Love” too self-indulgent, “Committed” is even more so. Reading it is like listening to a friend who is always consumed by a single problem in her life — at times learning the developing details is riveting, and at others you just want to tell her to buck up and get over it.

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