City of Girls

City of Girls

Book - 2019
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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.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2019
ISBN: 9781594634734
1594634734
Characteristics: 470 pages ; 24 cm
Call Number: GILBERT, E

Opinion

From Library Staff

"City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love."

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smfdenver Jul 23, 2019

I loved this novel! It’s the story of young woman who is sent to live with her eclectic aunt who is in the theater business. She experiences New York City for the first time during the 1930s and ending in modern day. It’s a detailed account of her coming of age in this wild and glamorous city and... Read More »

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DCLadults Jun 25, 2019

A New & Noteworthy pick. One of the most anticipated books of summer 2019. Vivian looks back on her life in pre- WWII, starting when she flunks out of Vassar and is sent to her Aunt Peg who owns a theater in New York City. Vivian lives a life outside the box and is fierce and flawed and wonde... Read More »

List - 2019 Summer Reads
DCLadults Jun 14, 2019

Elizabeth Gilbert of "Eat, Pray, Love" fame wants this book to "go down like a champagne cocktail—light and bright, crisp and fun." It's one of the most buzzed about books this summer.

List - Summer Reads
bibliosara Jun 07, 2019

The highly anticipated historical novel from Gilbert releases June 4th!


From the critics


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jjpaige
Jul 31, 2020

Enjoyable escapism. I look forward to reading it again some day.

HerrickDL_Laura Jul 28, 2020

I gave this book a three-star rating because I enjoyed the middle of the book and the empowered female characters. It took me ages to connect with the storyline and the ending was so disjointed. This was a slow read for me.

k
kjmcginley
Jul 18, 2020

This was an interesting and easy read, but didn't really have an overarching point. The end didn't have that "feel good" end-of-the-book feeling, and I seemed to like the middle section of the book best, which was odd. I liked that the main character was an independent feminist who didn't give in to society expectations, even if I didn't agree with all of her "life lessons". Not a bad book, but not one of my favorites.

j
josephax
Jul 04, 2020

I agree with the earlier comment that the first 3/4 of the book has a different feel and tone than the final 1/4. While I liked both sections of the book, it did feel jarring and difficult to reconcile.
The beginning drew a lot of parallels for me to Catcher in the Rye, including a train trip to NYC by a dropout of an elite school followed by plenty of partying. But Vivian Morris' version was more sophisticated than Holden Caulfield's.

r
reedvm
Jun 23, 2020

Fantastic!

m
mogie
Jun 22, 2020

This book was recommended to me by a friend and am I ever glad that she did! You know I've enjoyed the book if I finish it and read the acknowledgements and author bio. I loved Vivian with my whole heart. What a unique character! I laughed and I cried reading this book. I did not know that the author wrote Eat, Pray, Love and I think I am glad that I didn't as it may have coloured my perception of the book. I really really enjoyed it and would recommend it to any feminist historical fiction readers out there.

m
MillieBT
May 15, 2020

Amazing amazing story where I didn't want it to end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

m
MoonBeamz11
May 08, 2020

I very much enjoyed reading this book. It did confuse me as an entire piece.... the last quarter of the book not only follows the character through a different time in her life but follows her through very different thoughts. I’m torn wondering if the intention was to be an overarching reflection of life or did it just miss the mark and feel like 2 different books? The first 3/4 are very enjoyable- fun, exciting, youthful nostalgia but balanced with thoughtful reflection. But then the severity, although well written and still enjoyable to read, of the final fourth of the book just sort of makes you feel like you had 2 entirely different journeys. Either way, I did enjoy Vivian Morris.

c
CORI D. MORRIS
Apr 03, 2020

Let me preface this by saying, I love Elizabeth Gilbert and I didn't love her last book, The Signature of All Things. So I wasn't sure if I would love this but I really fell in love with Vivian and her girlish and naive ways, and I just love seeing the growth of a character over time like this. Gilbert's writing is just astounding and compelling. You can really see her masterful hand at work here and her characters are so beautiful and unique and the 1930s-40s were such an interesting time! Give this book a chance and it will surprise you!

b
bookoflentil
Mar 06, 2020

Having really enjoyed Eat Pray Love, I was expecting to love this latest of Eliz. Gilbert's too. I made it to page 136, all the while thinking I'd rather be reading something else. Tried It, Didn't Love It, Returned It.

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Kristen MERKE
Oct 07, 2019

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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janiedobbs
Dec 30, 2019

Vivian, looking back on her life, describes her experiences moving to New York as a wide-eyed nineteen-year-old in the 1940’s. City of Girls is about her adventures there as she becomes a costume director at her Aunt Peg’s theater, the Lily Plahouse.

Vivian is drawn into the glamour and excitement of stage life, but finds herself caught up in its excesses as well. When Vivian finds herself in a sticky situation, she’s forced to grow up and gain some perspective on her life.

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