10 February 2020

Review: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert book cover
* Copy courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing *

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert was a 5 star read for me in 2013, so I was eager to find out what her next book was going to be about. Released in 2019, City of Girls is set in 1940s New York and is about a young woman who works in a theatre and socialises with glamorous showgirls.

I made the mistake of assuming this was going to be an overtly feminine story in a setting I couldn't relate to and one that didn't interest me. So when I received a copy for review in mid 2019 it languished on my TBR pile.

I decided to give City of Girls a chance in January and figured the writing would at least hold my attention. Woah! I tumbled into Vivian Morris' story immediately and the setting was unexpectedly seductive. The plot had me entranced, Vivian's character development was completely unexpected as was the abundance of sex!

The deep personal revelations were incredibly moving and I found myself in the expert hands of Elizabeth Gilbert once again. I should have known better. Besides, Gilbert made the study of mosses riveting so I should have guessed she would wave her writing wand over the theatre scene of 1940s New York and produce a dazzling set of characters. Here are two quotes in particular I enjoyed.
"It's not difficult to compliment people in order to try to win their affections. What is difficult is to do it in the right way. Everyone told Celia she was beautiful, but nobody had ever told her she had the carriage of a trained ballerina. Nobody had ever told her she had a face made for her times." Page 118
And another.
"We'll be fine. She and I respect each other, which makes up for the fact that we dislike each other. Or, rather, I respect her. So that's something we share, at least. We have an excellent relationship based on a deep history of profound one-way respect, and plenty of it." Page 150
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is highly recommended for historical fiction lovers. This is not chick lit, this is not a romance novel. It's not a war novel either. It's a deep exploration of one woman's life, her sexual desire and the inner and outer expectations of those around her. It's a coming-of-age novel about choosing a different path. The reader will enjoy witnessing Vivian's personal growth and internal realisations and I found it incredibly moving in parts.

Carpe Librum!

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. My sister-in-law also loved this book. Mind you, our taste is very different, but maybe I'll take a look. Thanks.

    1. Great to hear your sister-in-law loved this one too Davida. All I can say is don't make the same mistake I did by misjudging this.

  2. I loved Signature of All Things so I have been meaning to get to this for a while!

    1. In that case I think you'll love this one too Marg.

  3. Yes! I'm, so glad you loved this as much as I did. Liz is just the best!!

    1. Hooray, what a relief we both agree on this one, lol!


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!