City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m on the fence with this book. While I enjoyed the writing style of Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls, I’m rather disappointed by the character development in this book.

Vivian Morris is in her nineties where she’s recounting her days of youth in the 1940’s while living in New York City. Rather bluntly, Vivian says she is good at two things in life; sex and sewing. In her glory years, at the age of nineteen, Vivian makes the journey to New York City where she is going to live in her Aunt Peg’s crumbling theatre, the Lily Playhouse. In an effort to help the decaying theatre, Vivian uses one of her life skills, sewing, to make the costumes for the plays.

Using her other life skill, sex, Vivian spends her spare time hitting the town with the showgirls. From going out partying to having sex with random men, Vivian makes her way through the city, both literally and figuratively. Even though there’s a war going on and the U.S. is getting involved, this doesn’t faze Vivian in the least. That is until she becomes tangled in a sex scandal that brings her entire life in New York City to a complete halt.  In shame, Vivian runs back home and spends the next year of her life brooding over the life she left behind and the mistakes she made. Some time later, her Aunt Peg comes to her rescue and asks for Vivian’s help with the plays again. Then she realises what’s happening around her with the war and how she can help support the war cause in New York City.

Like I said, I’m on the fence with this book. While I absolutely loved the writing — form the glamour and theatre life that brought me back to my high school theatre life — I wasn’t a big fan of the development of the characters. I found Vivian’s narcissism and how much she focused on herself and almost no one else to be one-dimensional. I wanted there to be a point of this story, that there was a life lesson to learn from Vivian’s past, but sure enough, she really only care about having more sex with men than she did in her youth — she literally said that!

What I really couldn’t get over either about this book was its length. It honestly could have been just 300 pages, it did not need to go on, and on, and on…but it did. I also think I built this book up too high. Having read such great reviews about this book ahead of reading it, I was really expecting something more — maybe more inspirational, emotional and encouraging? What I got was a woman wanting more sex out of her life.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls if filled with glitz and glamour from New York City’s 1940’s theater life. But it is also filled with erotic encounters, melancholy narration and too many pages. While there are hints of memoir thrown into this book, it leaves little for the readers to learn or discover about themselves. It is purely a raunchy sex-filed novel with limited revelations of making a better life. This is a hit or a miss depending on what you’re looking for!

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2 comments

  1. Nice review. I’ve been on the fence about this one, but it really doesn’t sound like my cup of tea after all. I think I’ll give it a pass.

    Liked by 1 person

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