City of Girls

City of Girls

Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 heryears 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 ashamedall 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.
Publisher: New York, New York : Riverhead Books, ©2019.
ISBN: 9781594634734
Characteristics: 470 pages ;,24 cm.


From Library Staff

2019- Nominee

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 30, 2021

CITY OF GIRLS begins as a lighthearted, frothy tale full of youthful hedonism, but midway it becomes a serious, thoughtful drama about healing and forgiveness. The memorable central character, Vivian Morris, narrates the story as she looks back on her long life and experiences. Mostly set in the glamorous theater district of 1940s Manhattan, this historic fiction contains characters who lead unconventional lives. Author Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing is engaging with a definite feminist slant. I especially enjoyed exploring the sights and sounds of New York City alongside Vivian. For me, this book was a pleasant surprise.

Mar 19, 2021

One of my students, a 25-year-old Ukrainian woman, encouraged me to read this book. She had to bring it up several times before I finally ordered it to read. I found the title so off-putting that I wasn't the least bit interested. What is with the titles of books and TV series that have the word "girl" in them when they're referring to women? Anyway, I'm glad I read it---it's actually a very feminist book, and quite an engaging and informative one at that. To sum up: if the title puts you off, don't let it. It's definitely worth reading.

Feb 09, 2021

I fell in love with Vivian, the narrator of the story. Part of the reason is the narrator, Blair Brown. Brown’s wonderful expressive voice gave substance to this breezy, fun story of a young girl who moved to New York City just before World War II. Vivian’s unconventional life including a highly active love life, her contribution to her aunt’s playhouse by designing costumes and her single life for her entire life leant detail to her story. And, boy, did Vivian live her life with passion, something few of us can attain.

Dec 26, 2020

Extraordinary book! One of the best I have read.

Nov 03, 2020

Very racey and risqué! Great book about growing up in a theatre in NYC!

Oct 29, 2020

Already read this book. ellen carol barnett

Oct 15, 2020

Enjoyed her style of writing - liked the book even though not a fan of the main character's behavior!

Oct 14, 2020

Vivian never changes. She's still the same naive teenager who allows the power of suggestion from others to influence how she lives her life. Edna was right to tell Vivian that her life will never amount to anything for betraying her. She's the same at 79 as she was at 19. She could care less about anyone except satisfying her own sexual need. How dare she ask the reader to be her friend? How dare she presume to believe that she knows more about Angela's dad than Angela!

This book had so much potential to go beyond a Sex & the City wanta be but comes up short. The main character lacks growth. She accepts her lack of direction and feeds only on sex and is ok with that.

Oct 02, 2020

The city of girls is one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is definitely unexpected and kept me literally at the edge of my seat. I think the topics and time period this book covers are super important and told in a very unique way. Additionally, the topics aren’t talked about for women a lot which is why this book is even better! The perspective of it and how it goes through the individual’s life is crazy and would recommend to anyone who is in for a very interesting roller-coaster read.

Sep 25, 2020

If you need a strong plot, this isn't for you. I don't, and I adored it! What a fabulous main character - I could have read another few hundred pages about her fascinating life and perceptions of the world.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Kristen MERKE
Oct 07, 2019

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


Add a Summary
Dec 30, 2019

Vivian, looking back on her life, describes her experiences moving to New York as a wide-eyed nineteen-year-old in the 1940’s. City of Girls is about her adventures there as she becomes a costume director at her Aunt Peg’s theater, the Lily Plahouse.

Vivian is drawn into the glamour and excitement of stage life, but finds herself caught up in its excesses as well. When Vivian finds herself in a sticky situation, she’s forced to grow up and gain some perspective on her life.


Add a Quote
Mar 30, 2021

“…at some point in 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.”


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top