City of Girls

Elizabeth Gilbert
From the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and The Signature of All Things, a delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don't have to be a good girl to be a good person. Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by Oprah.com, Real Simple, Buzzfeed,Cosmopolitan,GoodReads,PureWow,Vulture,The Millions and more. "Life is both fleeting and dangerous, and there is no point in denying yourself pleasure, or being anything other than what you are." Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love. In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves - and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest. Now eighty-nine years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life - and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. "At some point in a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time," she muses. "After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is." Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2022-01-02
I preferred the second half of this book over the first half. I might have put it down after about 200 pages if it hadn't been a book club read, and I'm glad I didn't because I really enjoyed the second half of the book.
Reviewed: 2020-07-17

It was fine.  I loved the writing.  It drew me in and the banter and characterization of most characters were wonderful.  The thing I did not like was how Gilbert used sex to indicate freedom, maturity, and self-development.  It was almost like the main character's, Vivian, development as a person centered around how she decided to have or not have sex.  Everything else about her was put upon her and she just mindlessly accepted it or was talked into it.  She felt like she had no agency or independent desires.  Sex as a plot point is never my favorite, however, this may have just been Gilbert's way of using Vivian as an allegory for the process of sexual freedom and confusion.  If so, it worked but sacrificed Vivian in the process.

Reviewed: 2019-09-02
Did not enjoy this author. Don’t understand all the hubbub regarding her writing. Did not enjoy Eat Pray Love. In this particular novel it took 200 pages of useless wording, sexual events to wind up with Vivian returning home a lesbian/hetero sexual and extremely lose young women. She spent most of her time drinking and partying. However was useful in designing and sewing costumes for the theater. At this point I gave up and moved on to more entertaining beneficial books.
Reviewed: 2019-07-19

I didn’t read Eat, Pray, Love and I was hesitant to buy a book by Elizabeth Gilbert because I heard mixed reviews on her first book & the movie (i.e. Ms. Gilbert was self-centered, narcissistic, etc.  However, this book was so highly reviewed that I decided to give it chance and I ended up really liking it.

I will say that I couldn’t put this book down and read it quickly, even though it is a long read.  I closed the book and loved it.  But, when looking back on the book, I realized that the storyline was a bit contrived. 

It seems like Ms. Gilbert wrote a great book about the lead character -- Vivian Morris -- but had no way to start or finish the story.  So, if felt to me like Ms. Gilbert created the storyline of Frank, Angela and Vivian, so that she had a way to begin & end the book. 

For all the effort & pages of Vivian’s story, it felt like the love affair that Frank & Vivian had was not given enough time & attention.  I felt like the love of Vivian’s life should have been more deeply explored and it felt like it got short shifted. I think Frank deserved more and Ms. Gilbert and/or the editors should have given his character more attention.

Right after I finished reading this book, I read The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, which was amazing.  I think that I wouldn’t have thought about the beginning & ending of The City of Girls if I hadn’t than read such a perfect book right afterwards.  I’ll have to do a better job of alternating genres, so I don’t read two fiction books one after the other and influence my thoughts on either. 

I got this book at the Prairie Lights Bookstore when Declan was attending Freshman Orientation.  It is a signed First Edition and I think it is a keeper…

Reviewed July 19, 2019

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