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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Oct 15, 2020

Enjoyed her style of writing - liked the book even though not a fan of the main character's behavior!

Oct 14, 2020

Vivian never changes. She's still the same naive teenager who allows the power of suggestion from others to influence how she lives her life. Edna was right to tell Vivian that her life will never amount to anything for betraying her. She's the same at 79 as she was at 19. She could care less about anyone except satisfying her own sexual need. How dare she ask the reader to be her friend? How dare she presume to believe that she knows more about Angela's dad than Angela!

This book had so much potential to go beyond a Sex & the City wanta be but comes up short. The main character lacks growth. She accepts her lack of direction and feeds only on sex and is ok with that.

Oct 02, 2020

The city of girls is one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is definitely unexpected and kept me literally at the edge of my seat. I think the topics and time period this book covers are super important and told in a very unique way. Additionally, the topics aren’t talked about for women a lot which is why this book is even better! The perspective of it and how it goes through the individual’s life is crazy and would recommend to anyone who is in for a very interesting roller-coaster read.

Sep 25, 2020

If you need a strong plot, this isn't for you. I don't, and I adored it! What a fabulous main character - I could have read another few hundred pages about her fascinating life and perceptions of the world.

Sep 21, 2020

I really enjoyed reading about Vivian and the different seasons of her life. Basically this book is a steamier (and probably more literary) version of “Valley of the Dolls.” I can’t get enough of stories about women who are libertines and reject the marriage & baby trajectory assigned to them.

Also enjoyable: The detailed descriptions of clothing and showgirl costumes, as well as the false idea of Vivian being a harlot coming full circle. Glad you could get over that, Viv.

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.

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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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