City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert
"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 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 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.
"Fiercely feminist, as well as jam-packed with uplifting truths about love and freedom, this phantasmagoria is both a feast for the senses and a balm for the soul." – Esquire.com
"City of Girls is smart and wise, and if you also want your beach read to speak to your sense of desire, longing, adventure, and coming of age, it certainly will not disappoint." –goop.com
"A fizzy cocktail of a novel…" – The Wall Street Journal
"Sparkling… City of Girls begs big questions about sex, chosen families, and being a woman." – Marie Claire
"When Elizabeth Gilbert set out to write City of Girls, her goal was to tell a story of female promiscuity that didn’t end in death or misfortune—a direct and delicious rebuttal to the tragic, sexist fates of the Emma Bovarys and Anna Kareninas of the canon. The result is a wildly entertaining summertime romp." –Elle
Paperback, April 7, 2020