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 second 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.
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City of Girls
The whole package is here in these pages
For readers who are intrigued by NYC, pre and post WWII, off-Broadway life, feminism - you will grab on from the start. While none of these subjects are my top draws into storytelling, I am now interested in them after reading this book. Beautifully written as only Elizabeth Gilbert can do. I will walk through life knowing these characters and will remind myself that while they are not real, they represent many women and their stories. That’s important. There are so many lessons about being human here. Important perspectives that can make the world a softer, more accepting place if more would practice what’s written in these pages. I will pause and think before judging - with Vivian in mind.
A quarter into the book, I had to push through the detail of the 1940’s theater and follies world of NYC. I’m so glad I did. There was a big picture treasure waiting in the rest of the pages and how the story came together in its final chapters. Well-written, important content. I recommend to women of all ages. Men could find a new view in these pages as well. Can’t wait to see what story you tell next, Elizabeth.
I loved this book so much. I couldn’t put it down. The writing is just beautiful.