AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
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
This book had humor, class and historical knowledge for the readers who are well versed in the 20-60’s era. Perfect read.
Didn’t get it
Eat,pray,love was a fabulous book, in my opinion. I have not enjoyed this authors other books as much, and this one, I kept trying to figure out the heart of the story. I really didn’t get the point, what am I missing? An old woman writing her life story to another old woman, when the second old woman only asked who she was to her Father. That answer would have been one page, but the author had the so called protagonist, Vivian write what was supposed to be an answer to one question. Very disappointed in this book, in fact I struggled to finish it.
What a marvelous book
Once you introduce truth into a room, the room may never be the same again.”
And boy, when Vivian Morris enters the scene, everything changes! We first meet Vivian as she begins to share her life story with someone we learn only later she tangentially knows.
In 1940, kicked out of college, Vivian is sent to New York City to live with her father’s sister Aunt Peg who owns and runs the Lily Playhouse. During her stay she “grows up”: she works as a costumer for the Lily, she gets to know all the things grown ups do in 1940s Manhattan. She also learns the things that mess up grownups can tear your world apart.
Now, at almost 90, Vivian tells her story with grace and gumption. She’s had good and bad times, wins, losses, love, sex, death, anger and “made it up as she went along”. All in all, she’s survived, she’s learned she has to change. Her Aunt Peg may have said it best :”Resist change at your own peril, Vivian. When something ends, let it end.” Not a bad way to end life looking back I’d say
All in all, Vivian is at peace with her life and what she has done. And as this book has grown and launched, I’ve seen Elizabeth Gilbert’s transformation reflected within its pages. I first fell in love with Gilbert’s work with “Eat Pray Love” and her other work from there forward to today. I purchased this as a gift to myself for my 63rd birthday and saved it to be my *First Book of 2020*. Never one to be thrown by bad reviews I chose not to read ANY until I’d finished this. I am so excited to hear someone bought the book to do a movie “treatment”. It will be interesting to see how that unfolds.
This book checked all my boxes to put it on my used book wish list. Each time I finish one of her books, it will stay with me a while. With maturation as a writer and a human, Gilbert will long be remembered for this book. Can’t wait to see what’s next! Highly Recommended 5/5