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City of Girls: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert
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City of Girls: A Novel (original 2019; edition 2020)

by Elizabeth Gilbert (Author)

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9995614,716 (3.98)25
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.… (more)
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English (50)  German (3)  Dutch (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Not great literature, but a lot of FUN. ( )
  JenniferElizabeth2 | Aug 25, 2020 |
"...at some point inn a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that she is free to become whoever she truly is."

City of Girls follows the life of one Vivian Morris. Her lively tale of life in New York in the 40's, and furthermore, in a small theater full of lively showgirls and dancers, is delightful and hilarious. Vivian relays the story of her life to the daughter of the man she loved in a way that is deeply enjoyable and nostalgic.

The first 100 pages of this book are amazing and have rightfully changed my humor just a little bit. Swimming as a theoretically concept, the removal of virginity by the dull Dr. Harold Kellogg, and Arthur Watson who is, I swear, Gilderoy Lockhart. The rest of the story is only a little more serious, but equally enjoyable. I find myself wishing I could experience life in the early 1940's if just for a little bit, and this book is the closest I have felt to being truly transported in time. ( )
  AvaGuerra | Aug 12, 2020 |
A beautifully written novel that purports to be a letter from Vivian to her friend Frank's daughter Angela, telling the truth about herself and what Frank meant to her. (In this respect, it reminds me a little of Peter Carey's THE TRUTH HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG.) I loved Gilbert's book partly for Vivian's fresh voice and the lovely clarity of the writing, but also for the generosity of spirit, the celebration of strong women and their friendships, and the compassion at the core of this book. My favorite lines: "After a certain age, we are all walking around in this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. our hearts grow sore and misshapen around all this pain--yet somehow, still, we carry on." ( )
  KarenOdden | Jul 24, 2020 |
this review is for the audiobook edition, narrated by blair brown.

well, that was fun. blair brown is a wonderful narrator, and truly served the characters and plot well with her storytelling skills. it feels like gilbert had a good time writing this story, so i hope that is the case.

had this on a 7-day 'jump the queue' loan, so it was a quick turnaround. though my reading/listening to audiobook skills have been sorely challenged and mostly absent for months, this was a good pick-me-up for the times we find ourselves in (as far as it being an entertaining distraction) this is the first book i've managed to get through in nearly 2 months. sigh.

the story is a very specific slice of white, privileged life - it won't be for everyone. and i suspect the audiobook edition offers a better platform for the story. though i plan to get a paperback, to see how the experiences compare. ( )
  Booktrovert | Jun 19, 2020 |
I love a book that just catches and holds my interest for hundreds of pages on end. This one did, with the voice of a young, dumb, and adventurous narrator telling a story of New York City in the 1940s, theater, sex, and hurt. Overall, this book was simply fun - it imagines a world with snappy characters, witty arguments, irreverent sex, and a young woman finding her way. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jun 9, 2020 |
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Epigraph
You will do foolish things,
but do them with enthusiasm.

       ---COLETTE
Dedication
For Margaret Cordi---
my eyes, my ears, my beloved friend
First words
I received a letter from his daughter the other day.
Quotations
The secret to falling in love so fast, of course, is not to know the person at all.
This is what flirtation is in its purest form---a whole conversation held without words. Flirtation is a series of silent questions that one person asks another person with their eyes. And the answer to those questions is always the same word:
Maybe.
Asking no further questions is the song of my people.
The dirty little whores had been disposed of; the man was allowed to remain.
Of course, I didn't recognize the hypocrisy back then.
But Lord, I recognize it now.
After a certain age, we are all walking around this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. Our hearts grow sore and misshapen around all this pain---yet somehow, still, we carry on.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

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