City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

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book cover City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls
by Elizabeth Gilbert

Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 480 pages
Audiobook Length: 15 hours and 8 minutes
First Published: 2019

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Publisher’s Description

“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.


Quotes from City of Girls

“Love is like that is a deep well with steep sides. Once you fall in, that’s it. You will love that person always.”

“Not many people know how to be satisfied.”

“Let us not become so cautious that we forget to live.”

“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it.”


About Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is an American author, best known for her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Her other works include City of Girls, Big Magic and The Signature of All Things. Gilbert divides her time between New York City and rural New Jersey. Visit the author’s website →


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