City of Girls

City of Girls

Book - 2019
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"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.""--Publisher description.
Publisher: 1906
New York : Riverhead Books, 2019.
ISBN: 9781594634734
Call Number: GILBE
Characteristics: 470 pages ; 24 cm
Subjects: Young women -- Fiction.
Theaters -- Fiction.
Reminiscing in old age -- Fiction.
Entertainers -- Fiction.
Scandals -- Fiction.
Nineteen forties -- Fiction.
Man-woman relationships -- Fiction.
Manhattan (New York, N.Y.) -- Fiction.
Romance fiction.
Historical fiction.
Est. publishing date: 1906


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IndyPL_LindsayH Sep 17, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating novel! it is written in the form of a letter to a woman that is not identified until the last pages of the novel, which is very interesting to me because it kept me guessing.

This historical novel takes place in a New York City that is long gone. I wish I could have visited that city and met the amazing cast of characters that are depicted in the pages by Gilbert. The glitz , glamour, and personalities will leave the reader wanting more.

Sep 03, 2020

89 y.o. woman in NY, reflects on life. Different generations of women.

Aug 29, 2020

This novel kept my attention from start to finish and I enjoyed how the narrator matured from a young, inexperienced woman throwing herself head over heels into sexual freedom to a woman making somewhat more measured choices for herself. I think the big question I have for any reader of this book is whether Vivian is indeed what Edna says she is...someone playing with other women's toys. The blurb on the cover suggests that Vivian can be good without doing good things all the time--fair enough--but {SPOILER ALERT}….she is of course involved in an emotional affair with a married man right to the end of the novel, so? Isn't she exactly the kind of person Edna said she was? I wondered if the novel is about self-delusion and the folly of thinking we ever really know ourselves, frankly. Beyond that, or maybe inclusive of that, the quick pace of the story is a summer delight. Worth a read!

Aug 18, 2020

This month I’ve been splitting a huge pile of maple for campfire wood, which didn’t take long for it to feel like a boring chore, so I decided to listen to an audio novel while I worked. I’ve just finished listening to The City of Girls and highly recommend it. The first few chapters have a vanity / promiscuity theme, which might not resonate with everyone, but it’s there to lay a foundation for exploring creativity, deep friendships, courage, families (or origin and choice), forgiveness, love in all its manifestations, to name a few. For me the last chapter was so full and moving that I had to set down my wood splitting axe to just listen. Then I listened again to the beginning of Chapter 1, to re-connect the beginning and ending of the book spanning 70 years of Vivian’s life. As I reflected on the main character Vivian, it seems to me that she lived much of her life in the Now.

Jul 31, 2020

Enjoyable escapism. I look forward to reading it again some day.

HerrickDL_Laura Jul 28, 2020

I gave this book a three-star rating because I enjoyed the middle of the book and the empowered female characters. It took me ages to connect with the storyline and the ending was so disjointed. This was a slow read for me.

Jul 18, 2020

This was an interesting and easy read, but didn't really have an overarching point. The end didn't have that "feel good" end-of-the-book feeling, and I seemed to like the middle section of the book best, which was odd. I liked that the main character was an independent feminist who didn't give in to society expectations, even if I didn't agree with all of her "life lessons". Not a bad book, but not one of my favorites.

Jul 04, 2020

I agree with the earlier comment that the first 3/4 of the book has a different feel and tone than the final 1/4. While I liked both sections of the book, it did feel jarring and difficult to reconcile.
The beginning drew a lot of parallels for me to Catcher in the Rye, including a train trip to NYC by a dropout of an elite school followed by plenty of partying. But Vivian Morris' version was more sophisticated than Holden Caulfield's.

Jun 23, 2020


Jun 22, 2020

This book was recommended to me by a friend and am I ever glad that she did! You know I've enjoyed the book if I finish it and read the acknowledgements and author bio. I loved Vivian with my whole heart. What a unique character! I laughed and I cried reading this book. I did not know that the author wrote Eat, Pray, Love and I think I am glad that I didn't as it may have coloured my perception of the book. I really really enjoyed it and would recommend it to any feminist historical fiction readers out there.

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Kristen MERKE
Oct 07, 2019

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


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Dec 30, 2019

Vivian, looking back on her life, describes her experiences moving to New York as a wide-eyed nineteen-year-old in the 1940’s. City of Girls is about her adventures there as she becomes a costume director at her Aunt Peg’s theater, the Lily Plahouse.

Vivian is drawn into the glamour and excitement of stage life, but finds herself caught up in its excesses as well. When Vivian finds herself in a sticky situation, she’s forced to grow up and gain some perspective on her life.


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