Book Review: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Friendship

“She gave me nothing less than my entire world.”

Elizabeth Gilbert is a prose doyenne. Her novel City of Girls is an ode to relationships that the world miracles you into.

“To be honest, I didn’t understand what I was doing at college, aside from fulfilling a destiny whose purpose nobody had bothered explaining to me.”

Vivian Morris decides to spend the summer of 1940 in the limitlessness of the New York City with her Aunt Peg who runs a theatre called the Lily Playhouse. The Playhouse is a theatrical troupe full of life that makes Vivian come to life herself. She strikes an irrevocable friendship with Celia Ray, a spectacular showgirl, that twirls Vivian’s life into a glamorous vaudevillian show. Soon her life is overtaken by veracity and every shot of spiteful tequila gives her life a different high. With every glass of sparkling champagne comes a celebration of every flaw and a glassy hangover of indulging in more wrongs. What comes next when the city is taken over by girls like Celia and Vivian is only for the readers to find out.

“Youth is an irreplaceable treasure, and the only respectable thing to do with irreplaceable treasure is to waste it.”

There comes a day when life chooses to deprive you of whatever you take from it, and Vivian is forced to pay the price of her reserve. Whether she gains the city’s trust or loses it all is what only time can tell; and whether time heals or creates an illusion of normalcy is what Vivian is soon to find out. The city can either reborn Vivian’s quintessence or can give her spirits a euthanasia from all.

“It was more important for me to feel free than safe.”

The City of Girls holds captive of all the unwarranted feelings you might have had when you were an ingenue. It is a zephyr of all the expressions you would want to thunder on the world after you finally set your music free. It makes you want to spend your evenings with a glass of wine and with a hopeless dream of being a young soul in the heart of the New York City in the 1940s.


1. She was a keen horsewoman, and given that I was neither a horse nor fascinated by horses, we’d never had much to talk about.

2. Anyway, I arrived in New York City safely – a girl so freshly hatched that there was practically yolk in my hair.

3. Celia never met a mirror she didn’t love.

4. The two of us went digging for trouble with a shovel and a pickax that summer, and we never had the slightest trouble finding it.

5. Because I am not a child, I told myself – the way children always do.

6. A costume is a landscape, not a portrait.

7. It was a decision that left nobody happy – which is what my father might have called a successful business negotiation.

8. Yet she was a woman who bravely played the game of life anyhow – and allowed the game of life to somewhat play her.

9. Because I was an idiotic child, Angela, and at that age, I would have followed a stop sign.

10. My actions had failed me so I stopped taking action.

11. I believed that I was a good person, if not a good girl.

12. But maybe that’s where love grows best – in the deep space that exists between polarities.

13. She’s more church than Church itself.

14. The world just happens to you sometimes.

15. There’s a level at which everyone’s grief is exactly the same.

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