by Elizabeth Gilbert
Her writing is self-indulgent but Elizabeth Gilbert makes it so easy to like her that readers will give her the chance to work out the meaning of life as she meanders from country to country sorting out her head (and writing books). Having found love in Bali, as she writes about in her best-selling Eat, Pray, Love, she is still very much with 'Felipe', her Brazilian boyfriend, although theirs is a relationship that starts over every time he returns after having been forced to leave the US when his three-month visa expires. When immigration officials finally stop him from re-entering the country - for no other reason than he's done it too many times before - the pair realise that to remain a couple they will have to marry. Neither is keen because both have been scarred by divorce. During the 10 months that they wander through Southeast Asia, Gilbert plays amateur anthropologist as she researches the institution of marriage. Belly gazing is interspersed with interesting factoids such as that May 3 is National Broken Hearts Day in India, and in Iran couples can ask a mullah for a 24-hour pass that permits them to be 'married' for one day.