I need to preface this review with two things before I can tell you how I feel about this novel;
First – Gilbert. If you have only read her work Eat Pray Love then in my opinion you don’t really know her work. I HATED Eat Pray Love. Yeah, yeah I know….everybody loved it. I did not. HOWEVER her novel The Signature of All Things is one of the best pieces of fiction I have ever read. And so I know that Gilbert is a talented writer.
Second – City of Girls is about Sex. A lot of sex. In fact this book is about a woman who LOVES sex. However there is really only one sexual encounter in the story that is descibed in “detail”. Otherwise, the main character in City of Girls just has sex – and a lot of it. If you can’t get past that you won’t like this book. I could get past it and see through it to a character that was lost and searching for love and fulfillment in a period in America where women rarely got both. Gilbert writes the emotions of this story brilliantly. I listened to this book on Audible and it is one of my favorites this year.
So, Book Review City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her third novel and her fourth book (EAT is a memoir not a novel). In this story we meet Vivian, a very old lady looking back at her life and telling the story of it. We aren’t sure who she is telling the story to, until very late in the book.
Vivian’s story begins when she is 19 years old in the early 1940’s, has just flunked out of Vassar and her parents have sent her off to her Aunt in New York City, as they have no idea what else to do with her.
And thus Vivian’s life adventures begin as she is swept up into the theatrical world surrounding the Lily Playhouse run by her Aunt. In the company of risque theater people, actors, actresses, dancers, rich New York patrons she finds herself basically unchaperoned, and living a life she never could have dreamed of.
Quickly she looses her virginity, falls hard for an actor, betrays a close friend and scandal ensues. She is a survivor however and finds her way back, although never all the way back to some of the people she loved the most but who cannot forgive her.
In the end, Vivian has a full life, sexual partners too many to count, and is a successful business woman in a very unique way for a women of the time period. And in the end, her life has meaning in an unexpected way as she finds true love, but to a man she can never have sex with or even touch. A lesson here? Definitely.
I enjoyed the characters, the story and Gilbert’s writing. The plot so completely different than The Signature of All Things, yet similar only in the strong female character busting out of the constraints of the era they were born into.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Read last week’s review of The Invisible Woman.
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