Suffice it to say that City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert was one of 2019’s most hotly anticipated novels. Despite being best-known for her memoirs, Gilbert’s first fictional offering in over five years met every high expectations readers had.
About the book
GILBERT SAID “I’ve longed to write a novel about promiscuous girls whose lives are not destroyed by their sexual desires” , then she introduces Vivian Morris, who’s our narrator and the main character of this book.
And Gilbert says: “My goal was to write a book that would go down like a champagne cocktail- light and bright, crisp and fun.” and with City of Girls, she delivers exactly that.
Narrated by protagonist Viviane Morris, City of Girls is a pacy coming of age story that explores women’s sexuality, the courage to break conventions, the freedom to follow one’s desires, growing up, friendships, life’s simple pleasures, glamour, resilience and optimism.
The story is told from the perspective of a Ninety five-year-old woman, Vivian who narrates her life story to Angela. She claims to be good at two things in life, sex, and sewing. Vivian was born into a privileged life with parents who gave her the best life possible and servants who fulfilled every need of hers. It never occurred to her that there was life different from hers and that life was drastically different for other people.
“I promise that I will try my best in these pages not to go on and on about how much better everything was back in my day. I always hated hearing old people yammering on like this when I was young. (Nobody cares! Nobody cares about your Golden Age, you blathering goat!) And I do want to assure you: I’m aware that many things were not better in the 1940s. Underarm deodorants, air-conditioning were woefully inadequate, for instance, so everybody stank like crazy, especially in the summer, and also we had Hitler.”
Vivid, likeable, sassy, free and fun, The nineteen years old college dropout moves to New York to live with her eccentric aunt Peg, who owns a crumbling theatre inhabited by a larger-than-life cast of characters. Sent by her parents who are baffled by their daughter’s lack of academic prowess, what began as a summer in the city soon turns into something more as Vivian finds her feet working for her aunt as the theatre’s costume designer.
Vivian is naive, sheltered and bored and this is her first taste of real freedom — a dangerous combination. Throughout the early parts of the novel, she grows more and more reckless until a single foolish incident puts her in real danger of being completely exposed and shamed for her indecent behaviour.
What follows in an enticing depiction of a footloose and fancy-free life in 1940s New York where boundaries are pushed, rules are bent and broken, friendships are formed and a legacy is left in the character’s wake. Rich with dazzling storytelling, Gilbert brilliantly captures the loftiness of the central protagonist as we follow her living a life less ordinary on the streets of the Big Apple.
Thought-provoking, ripe with wit and humour and loveable characters throughout, City of Girls is an intoxicating read that is everything Gilbert promised her readers and more.
About City of Girls: SYNOPSIS
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 ninety-five 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.
About Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is an award-winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her short story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award, and her novel Stern Men was a New York Times notable book. In 2002, she published The Last American Man, which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award. She is best known for her 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love, which was published in over thirty languages and sold more than seven million copies worldwide. The film, released in 2010, stars Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. Committed: A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage, a follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love, was published in 2010. Elizabeth Gilbert lives in New Jersey, USA.
“A person only gets to move to New York City for the first time in life *once*, Angela, and it’s a pretty big deal.
Perhaps this idea doesn’t hold any romance for you, since you are a born New Yorker. May you take this splendid city of ours for granted. Or maybe you love it more than I do, in your own unimaginably intimate way. Without a doubt, you were lucky to be raised here. But you never got to *move* here – and for that, I am sorry for you. You have missed one of life’s great experiences.
New York City in 1940!
There will never be another New York like that one. I’m not defaming all the New Yorks that came before 1940, or all the New Yorks that came after 1940. They all have their importance. But this is a city that gets born anew in the fresh eyes of every young person who arrives here for the first time. So *that* city, *that* place – newly created for my eyes only – will never exist again. It is preserved forever in my memory like an orchid trapped in a paperweight. That city will always be my perfect New York.”