City of Girls has everything I hope for in historical fiction: well-researched period details, gargantuan personalities, and more sex than I ever found in my history textbooks! With her trademark exuberance and wit, Elizabeth Gilbert vividly evokes the glitz, grit, and clamor of New York City in the 1940s. At the bright center of it all is Vivian Morris, a proper young woman itching to be anything but. She rushes headlong into all the adventures she can find and has more fun than polite society allows— but not without consequences. Gilbert doesn't shy away from exploring the uglier parts of American history, which lends the story a level of depth and credibility that makes it feel three-dimensional. It's a smart, heartbreaking, joyful look at a life and I closed the book wishing it were twice as long. Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Reading City of Girls is pure bliss, thanks to its spirited characters, crackling dialogue, rollicking yet affecting story lines, genuinely erotic scenes, and sexual intelligence, suspense, and incisive truths." Booklist (Starred Review)
"City of Girls is the beautiful, poignant story of what it takes to live the life you truly want." Bookbub
"Perfect…a page-turner with heart complete with a potent message of fulfillment and happiness." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
About the Author
Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, and several other internationally bestselling books. She has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a Best Book of 2013 by The New York Times, O Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker.