AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
A great holiday gift, 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.
"A spellbinding novel about love, freedom, and finding your own happiness." - PopSugar
"Intimate and richly sensual, razzle-dazzle with a hint of danger." -USA Today
"Pairs well with a cocktail...or two." -TheSkimm
"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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A woman reminisces about her unconventional life in Elizabeth Gilbert’s exhilarating third novel. After Vivian Morris flunks out of Vassar in the early ’40s, her exasperated parents send her to live with her aunt, who runs a shabby theater in New York. So begins Vivian’s adventure of self-discovery, which includes crafting showstopping costumes from tattered clothing, painting the town red with a lascivious showgirl, falling for a charismatic Hell’s Kitchen boy, and working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during the war. Reading City of Girls is a giddy pleasure—Gilbert’s lusty, independent heroine explodes the false and harmful dichotomy of “good” versus “bad” girls.
Gilbert (The Signature of All Things) begins her beguiling tale of an innocent young woman discovering the excitements and pleasures of 1940 New York City with a light touch, as her heroine, Vivian Morris, romps through the city. Gradually the story deepens into a psychologically keen narrative about Vivian's search for independence as she indulges her free spirit and sexuality. Freshly expelled from Vassar for not attending any classes, 19-year-old Vivian is sent by her parents to stay with her aunt Peggy Buell in Manhattan. Peg runs a scruffy theater that offers gaudy musical comedies to its unsophisticated patrons. As WWII rages in Europe, Vivian is oblivious to anything but the wonder behind the stage, as she becomes acquainted with the players in a new musical called City of Girls, including the louche leading man with whom she falls in love with passionate abandon. Vivian flits through the nightclubs El Morocco, the Diamond Horseshoe, and the Latin Quarter, where she hears Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Louis Prima. Drinking heavily and scooting into the arms of numerous men, one night at the Stork Club she meets Walter Winchell, the notorious gossip columnist, who plays a pivotal role in the tabloid scandal in which Vivian becomes embroiled. Vivian's voice irreverent, witty, robust with slang gradually darkens with guilt when she receives a devastating comeuppance. Eventually, she arrives at an understanding of the harsh truths of existence as the country plunges into WWII. Vivian originally reckless and selfish, eventually thoughtful and humane is the perfect protagonist for this novel, a page-turner with heart complete with a potent message of fulfillment and happiness.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Vivian Morris is the voice of an era for young girls tasting freedom
This story is written eloquently and clearly with so much love. Once you enter the mind of the main character, it is difficult to look away. The picture of Vivian’s life within the 1940s theater and beyond builds the right amount of tension and emotion to keep the reader interested.
A Beautiful Story
I’m confused to see 1 stars reviews for this book. It was so lovely to read. I fell in love with all the characters and the story line. It’s so refreshing to see a story of a women’s appetite for sex. Bravo! And the narration was amazing 👏🏼👏🏼
I read a few positive reviews and a few that were not very positive before taking on this book. I decided to give it a chance after reading the first couple of chapters as I enjoyed the lightheartedness of the main character, Vivian. After Chapter 9, I determined that Vivian’s lightheartedness was more lightheadedness. I got tired of her mindless gallivanting and chose to move on to a book that’s characters are interesting and a plot with more purpose. The most accurate review of this book is in “Vulture” magazine. It expresses my sentiments exactly. Goodbye “Girls!”