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City of girls : a novel
2019
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  Library Journal Review

After flunking out of Vassar College, 19-year-old Vivian Morris is sent by her wealthy parents to New York City to live with her unconventional aunt Peg, who owns a crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. It's the summer of 1940, and for a girl "so freshly hatched, there was practically yolk" in her hair, Vivian's new home is a bewitching mix of "glamour and grit and mayhem and fun." Vivian eagerly embraces her new life, quickly losing her virginity, embarking on wild escapades with showgirl Celia, and making costumes for the playhouse. But when a careless personal mistake results in a professional scandal, Vivian returns home, chastened, in a short-lived attempt to meet her parents' (and society's) expectations. The first half of Gilbert's (The Signature of All Things) historical novel is a rollicking coming-of-age delight, vividly capturing the spirit of the era. But the melancholy second half feels flat, owing to the awkward narrative structure that has ninetysomething Vivian reflecting on her life in a letter to the daughter of the man she loves. VERDICT Tart-voiced Vivian and her adventures in 20th-century Manhattan will please readers who enjoyed Kathleen Rooney's Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. [See Prepub Alert, 12/3/18.]--Wilda Williams, New York

  Publishers Weekly Review

Gilbert (The Signature of All Things) begins her beguiling tale of an innocent young woman discovering the excitements and pleasures of 1940 New York City with a light touch, as her heroine, Vivian Morris, romps through the city. Gradually the story deepens into a psychologically keen narrative about Vivian's search for independence as she indulges her free spirit and sexuality. Freshly expelled from Vassar for not attending any classes, 19-year-old Vivian is sent by her parents to stay with her aunt Peggy Buell in Manhattan. Peg runs a scruffy theater that offers gaudy musical comedies to its unsophisticated patrons. As WWII rages in Europe, Vivian is oblivious to anything but the wonder behind the stage, as she becomes acquainted with the players in a new musical called City of Girls, including the louche leading man with whom she falls in love with passionate abandon. Vivian flits through the nightclubs El Morocco, the Diamond Horseshoe, and the Latin Quarter, where she hears Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Louis Prima. Drinking heavily and scooting into the arms of numerous men, one night at the Stork Club she meets Walter Winchell, the notorious gossip columnist, who plays a pivotal role in the tabloid scandal in which Vivian becomes embroiled. Vivian's voice-irreverent, witty, robust with slang-gradually darkens with guilt when she receives a devastating comeuppance. Eventually, she arrives at an understanding of the harsh truths of existence as the country plunges into WWII. Vivian-originally reckless and selfish, eventually thoughtful and humane-is the perfect protagonist for this novel, a page-turner with heart complete with a potent message of fulfillment and happiness. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
From the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things, a delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don't have to be a good girl to be a good person.Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by Oprah.com, Real Simple, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, GoodReads, PureWow, Vulture, The Millions and more."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
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