Title: City of Girls
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Edition/Pages: Ebook, 432 pages
ARC provided by Riverhead Books via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.
In 1940, Vivian moves to New York after being kicked out of Vasser College. She moves into the Lily Playhouse with her Aunt Peg and group of eclectic cast members. Vivian is immediately swept into the life of showgirls, theatre, and men. But a scandal derails her fun and sends her life into a spiral but also starts her on a path toward freedom and love.
This is a historical fiction fiction novel that takes place mostly during the WWII era. You see the events through a young, affluent girl living in New York City.
This entire story is told in the format of a letter. As an old woman, Vivian receives a letter from Angela asking to hear the details about how Vivian knows her father. The story slowly unwinds revealing who Angela and her father are and the connection between them.
The best way I can describe this is a cross between Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and How I Met Your Mother
Content Warnings: Sex, Alcoholism/Excessive Drinking, Cheating, PTSD, Death
What I Liked
- Vivian’s character had such a captivating “voice”. I was immediately pulled into this story. She is such a sassy, intriguing main character and I couldn’t help but turn the page. Vivian is so flawed and so unlikeable at times (or the teenage version of her is). But I loved the little quips that were thrown in by her as a grown woman.
- This books is hardcore feminist. If excessive sex talk makes you uncomfortable, this is not the book for you. I loved the depiction of healthy female sexuality – especially in a time period where this was even more scandalous. None of these characters shied away from who they were. This entire book was a collection of strong, independent woman. And I was here. for. it.
- I thought the letter format style was really unique and brought a lot of the story. Since Vivian’s character was so flawed and made so many poor choices, the added input from her future self really helped me from becoming unattached to her character. Plus it allowed the narrator to challenge some of the prejudices that were displayed.
What I Didn’t Like
- This book was very long. I personally felt that the amount of detail and background wasn’t totally necessary. And there were times that it started to drag because it didn’t feel like we were getting any closer to the reveal.
- My main grip is I was pretty underwhelmed by the reveal. I appreciated the representation of an unconventional relationship. But I personally wanted more after the extensive, 300+ page build up.
Overall this book is unlike anything else I’ve read. I loved the strong feminist themes and 100% enjoyed my time reading. If you like character driven, literary fiction, I recommend checking this one out!