Updated: Dec 29, 2019
An evocative coming-of-age retrospective full of humility, courage, compassion and forgiveness.
In 1940, Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris had just flunked out of Vassar College during her freshman year. Her wealthy parents don’t know what to do with her, so they send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to many unconventional and charismatic characters from the beautiful showgirls, to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, and a no-nonsense stage manager. Vivian only skill is sewing, so she becomes the de facto costume designer for the Playhouse. But when Vivian makes a huge personal mistake that results in a professional scandal, it turns her world upside down in ways that will take years for her to fully understand. Now, 95-years old Vivian is telling her story. She recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life, and leads to her finding the love of her life.
“Never has it felt more important for me to tell stories of joy and abandon, passion and recklessness. Life is short and difficult, people. We must take our pleasure where we can find them. Let us not become so cautious that we forget to live.”
CITY OF GIRLS is an evocative coming-of-age retrospective told by Vivian at the age of 95, in 2010. Vivian has had plenty of years for reflection and has plenty of outrageous and poignant stories to share. Her stories are rich and memorable, like her escapades at Vassar that resulted in her finishing next to last in the freshman class. My favorite story was the one of her first sexual encounter at the age of 19 not long after her arrival in New York. The encounter was delightedly arranged for her by the theater showgirls and was laugh out loud funny.
CITY OF GIRLS is an expertly delivered portrait of a young woman trying to figure out who she truly is, and find all the joy and passion she can possible squeeze out of life. Vivian’s character was delightful, I would have love to meet her in her older years, share a glass of champagne and hear her tell captivating stories which are streaked with humor, humility, courage, compassion and forgiveness.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing, characters and setting made a delightful combination. This book would make a great book club pick...it’s a guarantee that not everyone will like the book, but that might make for the perfect book club discussion! Gilbert is an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction including The Signature of All Things (2013) and Eat, Pray, Love (2007).
“... 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.”
Published June 4, 2019
Narrated Blair Brown