How did I let this book sit unread on my shelf for so long?! I am kicking myself for not picking it up City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert sooner. It has everything I love in a book: character driven, strong and independent female characters with a snarky sense of humor, and the glamour of 1940's New York City. I LOVED it.
Vivian Morris is born into wealth, affluency and status, yet she has no desire to walk the path of other girl's her age. College did not work out and the thought of getting married and having children makes her feel claustrophobic, so she moves to New York City to stay with her eccentric aunt in her theatre. Vivian is exposed to the glamorousness that is New York City in the 1940's. As an attractive, young woman, she has the city in the palm of her hand and takes full advantage of all it has to offer. Vivian befriends a glamorous and sexy showgirl, Celia, and the two tear up the town. She soon has a crash course in what it means to be an independent woman and most importantly, a good friend.
City of Girls is narrated by Vivian to an unknown character named Angela. Angela had reached out to Vivian at the beginning of the book to inform her that her mother passed and asked for details on Vivian's relationship with Angela's father. Who Angela is and who her father is are unknown, as Vivian details when her life began after her move to New York City. (Don't worry, you get your answers at the end ;)
I love the way this story is told. Vivian gave me Evelyn Hugo vibes. She is strong, independent, and not afraid to do what she enjoys, even if others judge her for it. The setting is vibrant and comes off the page. I felt like I was in New York City, running around in the wee hours of the morning with Vivian, drunk on champagne and chasing boys. She is hard not to love and I loved her snarky, sarcastic sense of humor. This coming of age story is perfect for those who are fans of female lead, character driven historical novels. City of Girls wraps in the glamour and decadence of 1940's New York City with the threat of war that was ever present during that time. For every act of debauchery, there was a sobering moment of reality that brings you back to that decade.
I have only ever read one other book by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and I was not a fan, so part of me was hesitant to give this one a chance. Wow, was I proven wrong. City of Girls sparkles off the pages and you are guaranteed to fall in love with these characters. This book pairs well with a glass of sparkling cold champagne.
5 glamorous, champagne drunken stars
"At some point in a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is."
"When women are gathered together with no men around, they don't have to be anything in particular; they can just be."