Book reviews

Book review: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Title- City of Girls
Editor- Elizabeth Gilbert
Publisher- Bloomsbury India
Format- Paperback
Pages- 480
Genre- Literary Fiction
Publication date- 4 June 2019

Book blurb:

It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Although her quicksilver talents with a needle and commitment to mastering the perfect hair roll have been deemed insufficient for her to pass into her sophomore year of Vassar, she soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg’s charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses.

Exile in New York is no exile at all: here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. And when the legendary English actress Edna Watson comes to the Lily to star in the company’s most ambitious show ever, Vivian is entranced by the magic that follows in her wake. But there are hard lessons to be learned, and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new.

‘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,’ she confides. And so Vivian sets forth her story, and that of the women around her – women who have lived as they truly are, out of step with a century that could never quite keep up with them.

Book review:

Anyway, 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 what she truly is.

City of girls was a perfect summer read for me. A tale of a young girl Vivian Morris set up in NYC in the 1940s learning through her mistakes and growing out stronger.

Vivian wasn’t doing much good in Vassar College, so her opulent parents send her to live with her Aunt Peg in Manhattan who owned a midtown theatre called the Lily Playhouse where Vivian experiences a complete different turning into a costume director and meeting showgirls and dancers.

The story is in the form of a letter to Angela whose relation with Vivian is unveiled later in the book. Narration being in the form of letter didn’t felt formal at all and there wasn’t any dull moment in the entire book rather I felt Vivian’s emotions were poured all over the book.

That is not true, Vivian. People will notice, but they won’t know what they’re noticing. They will just notice that something is wrong. Don’t give them that opportunity.

Character development of Vivian from being shy to a fearless young woman who knows to accept the true version of herself was brilliant. The characters of the showgirl Celia Ray, the famous actress Edna Parker and Olive were all quirky and filled with life.

From experiencing a glamorous theatre life to heading back to real life, turning adult, finding family in people and love of her life, navigating through her flaws and mistakes at her teenage years to emerging out as a confident woman. This book is all about getting okay in our own skin.

After a certain age, we are all walking around this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. Our heart grows sore and misshapen around all this pain- yet somehow still, we carry on.

A vivid and profound portrayal of woman’s emotion in such a tremendous and fun tale was an amazing experience for me. It will be undoubtedly among my best reads of the year and I can’t recommend it enough. Go for this thick gem if you love literary fiction.

Stunning ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ stars for me

Thanks to Bloomsbury India for sending over the review copy.🌻

Link to buy book.

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