City of Girls - Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls

By Elizabeth Gilbert

  • Release Date: 2019-06-04
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4.5
From 3,080 Ratings



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.


  • I liked it

    By Sarah1228484
    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...

    By 12345qwertfdsa
    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.
  • WOW

    By Vrpena
    Amazing book. Still thinking about it
  • Didn’t get it

    By Sinifinn
    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

    By rokinrev
    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
  • Classic

    By Jea esme
    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 Story

    By CindyC1013
    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!

    By Syteacher
    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 freedom

    By Miss Jana T
    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 years

    By kaykaybean13
    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.