City of Girls

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert Book Summary


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.

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City of Girls (Elizabeth Gilbert) Book Reviews

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- City of Girls5 star

Excellent story, well written

- I liked it4 star

It was fun getting to know the characters and seeing the main characters come of age. I know this author isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but she is mine and I enjoy her books this one included.

- So close...4 star

The first 3/4 of this book are fabulous! Very entertaining, very illuminating about the culture of the times, very well written. Then at the end, it veers off into an improbable relationship with someone who was rude to her in her past and stops being entertaining. Oh well.

- WOW5 star

Amazing book. Still thinking about it

- Didn’t get it2 star

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 book5 star

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

- Classic4 star

This book had humor, class and historical knowledge for the readers who are well versed in the 20-60’s era. Perfect read.

- A Beautiful Story5 star

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 👏🏼👏🏼

- Lost Girls!1 star

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!”

- Vivian Morris is the voice of an era for young girls tasting freedom4 star

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.

- Brilliant coming of age story that continues over a span of 50 years5 star

The intricate bonds and depths of each character were so intense and captivating that I couldn’t help to fall in love with them. I genuinely felt their pain, joy, grief, compassion, kindness, humility and longing to be accepted, to be their best selves and to be loved without conditions. Peg was a perfect role model and advisor for her niece Viv. Throughout the years of living together, she taught her Bruce that there were consequences for her actions, how to accept her mistakes, apologizing and being accountable for the way her actions impacted others and to gracefully admit that she was responsible for the actions whether unintentional or not, it was how she reacts when she is confronted about her actions. She learned to love without conditions, especially loving herself. She was a courageous independent woman during the 40’s and 50’s and she didn’t conform to societal standards of marriage, child rearing or make apologies for choosing her own way. I loved seeing her blossom from an ashamed and confused young women who never felt comfortable within herself or secure in her decisions into a strong independent woman who made the life she loved and needed and didn’t require anyone’s approval. In a world where the standards for men and women are so contradictory and standards are far from equal, Viv had learned that what was acceptable for men was not appropriate or acceptable for a women, particularly regarding sexual behavior or choices. As a young woman she often felt guilty ashamed and dirty for having a healthy libido and a voracious appetite for sex. As she grew into a confident woman who had successfully established her own business, made her own rules and lived her own lifestyle with her best friend and her friends child she had out of wedlock, Viv was certainly not a woman who conformed to anything that was socially acceptable or appropriate. She was a woman before her time and evolved much further and faster than most people of her time. She was a pioneer, made her own rules by listening to her instincts and her heart. She had a beautiful heart and profoundly impacted those who she loved.

- City Of Girls1 star

One of the most trivial books I have ever read. No plot. No character development. No story development. Narcissistic and trite.

- AMAZING5 star

So entertaining and engaging from beginning to end.

- Couldn’t put it down!5 star

The story that just keeps giving. I read this faster than any book I’ve read in a long time because I could not put it down!

- Never wanted it to end5 star

Wonderful story - I fell in love with the characters and hated to finish this book.

- If you love story telling...5 star

Then read this fabulous story!

- Exquisitely spun tale5 star

Truly captivating story that sucked me in from the first page and kept my focus throughout the conclusion.

- City oh Girls5 star

Couldn’t put it down. That says it all.

- Beautiful ❤️5 star

Loved everything about this book!

- City of Girls5 star

Just what I needed! Refreshing and thought provoking. A beautiful story of a girl becoming a woman the best way she knew how... following her heart and her passion. A breath of fresh air for women who feel they need permission to be beautiful sexual beings- without societies opinions and judgements stopping them.

- Longest book ever1 star

I love my evening rituals of reading before bed to disconnect from the day/work. I never looked forward to this books next chapter, it was long winded and never ended! I always finish a book, this one was excruciating and I am so happy it's finished.

- What fun!5 star

Loved the taboo subjects of the era and the strong female characters

- So boring1 star

Nothing brought me into this story. I was really frustrated by page 300, I wanted to quit. I finished but really regret the time I wasted reading this... it was so dull.

- Breathtaking5 star

I cried and rejoiced as I traveled down memory lane with Vivian Morris. She is a strong and honest character. The story she tells will have you holding your breath and at the end, if you are like me, you will exhale as you shed your tears.

- Brilliant.5 star

Absolutely brilliant. So very intelligent. Breath of fresh air.

- Great Read!4 star

Great read! Towards the end got a little “repetitive” but overall I really really enjoyed the book!

- Devoured This Book—but was left wishing for just a bit more by the end4 star

This is an excellent book, don’t get me wrong. I am not a writer and could not ever be anything close to as good of a writer as Elizabeth Gilbert. I am here for all her novels, all day! The only reason I didn’t give it a full 5-stars is simply because it felt like the story peaked too soon. I devoured it so fiercely and then it waned a bit and I was saddened by the change in the storyline. The evolved nature of main character, Vivian Morris, was one that I could wholeheartedly believe. I just wish we could have seen a better resolution of some of the other characters.

- City of Girls5 star

Wonderful touching story from start to end.

- City of Girls5 star

Timeless. Riveting. Raw and authentic.

- Places and characters felt so real.5 star

The author’s descriptions so perfectly describe a woman who loved an imperfect life of excitement, adventure, and redemption. So real. I’m so in love with this story.

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- Totally Absorbing5 star

I read this book over the course of 2 long bus rides and it made them flash by like nothing. This book is totally engrossing and just so wonderfully written. Thank you Elizabeth for another stunning piece of literature. You have created a fascinating world that will forever be a part of my memories.

- Felt disjointed3 star

Books was an easy summer read, certainly entertaining but 3/4 of the way through it feels like the author is very slowly tying up every loose end. I suppose the book is the story of the main character’s life but it just didn’t feel cohesive.

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5 star

#MakeItBetterMonday ALFA International client, Kiewit Corporation, recently donated children’s masks to the Boys &…

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@attiez2 She's part of i City girls. One of the 2 ladies, bayacula 🤣

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@PARInetwork: Women and girls of the fishing community in Killabandar village, Palghar district, spend hours scraping the bottom of a we…

5 star

Two years ago today the girls and i scammed the entire city of nashville 🥺💖

5 star

Three artists that reminds me of freshman year City Girls, Quando Rondo, NBA Youngboy.

5 star

The same people the drag the city girls lyrical skills are the same ones screaming lyrics of Cardi B songs😭 make it make sense to me

5 star

In “Pussy Talk” by the City Girls, JT elaborates on how her vagina speaks both English and Ebonics, which is eviden…

5 star

@bronze_bombSHEL: I love the LIFE cover of Whitney Houston in this custom Eugene Alexander floral-detail dress — This image is from a pr…

5 star

Or Jatavia damn. One of the 3 City Girls lmao

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@bronze_bombSHEL: I love the LIFE cover of Whitney Houston in this custom Eugene Alexander floral-detail dress — This image is from a pr…

5 star

“Communities of color led and serving nonprofits are fatigued with lip service — show us, ATX women’s giving circle…

5 star

City girls is not the sole inspiration of women not wanting to deal with broke men. That is common sense.

5 star

@PARInetwork: Women and girls of the fishing community in Killabandar village, Palghar district, spend hours scraping the bottom of a we…

5 star

@Debbie_J_Crouch: ⚽️⚽️ U18 GIRLS TEAM LOOKING FOR DEFENDERS⚽️⚽️ ✅ Play PRO-CLUB friendlies ✅ Links with London City Lionesses (WSL 2) ✅…

5 star

This is the song of the year

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