About Your Privacy on this Site
Welcome! To bring you the best content on our sites and applications, Meredith partners with third party advertisers to serve digital ads, including personalized digital ads. Those advertisers use tracking technologies to collect information about your activity on our sites and applications and across the Internet and your other apps and devices.
You always have the choice to experience our sites without personalized advertising based on your web browsing activity by visiting the DAA’s Consumer Choice page, the NAI's website, and/or the EU online choices page, from each of your browsers or devices. To avoid personalized advertising based on your mobile app activity, you can install the DAA’s AppChoices app here. You can find much more information about your privacy choices in our privacy policy. Even if you choose not to have your activity tracked by third parties for advertising services, you will still see non-personalized ads on our sites and applications. By clicking continue below and using our sites or applications, you agree that we and our third party advertisers can:
  • transfer your data to the United States or other countries; and
  • process and share your data so that we and third parties may serve you with personalized ads, subject to your choices as described above and in our privacy policy.
Entertainment Weekly

Book Reviews

Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls takes a fizzy trip to '40s NYC: EW review

Riverhead Books

Posted on

City of Girls

B+
Book Details
type
Book
Genre
Fiction

it’s been more than a decade since Elizabeth Gilbert’s inescapable memoir Eat, Pray, Love sent countless readers on their own quest for passport stamps, pasta, and spiritual fulfillment. Her latest, City of Girls, arrives with another kind of self-care directive. “My goal with this novel,” Gilbert explains in an opening author’s note, “was to write a book that would go down like a champagne cocktail — light and crisp, bright and fun.”

City does bubble and fizz, a sort of Drink, Dance, Flirt set amid the glamorous greasepainted swirl of 1940s New York’s theater-world bohemia. And it’s all catnip to the story’s narrator, Vivian Morris, a wayward 19-year-old debutante “so freshly hatched that there was practically yolk in my hair.” Expelled from Vassar after one feckless year — why go to class when there are beers to drink and jukes to joint? — she is sent by her weary parents to live with her outcast Aunt Peg, the owner of a fleabag playhouse still scraping by on old-timey vaudeville.

Unsurprisingly, the Lily feels more like home to Vivian than any cotillion or country club ever did; with her seamstress skills, she can even make herself useful, stretching Peg’s meager costume budget to dress a rotating cast of actors, misfits, and showgirls. One of them, a Bronx-born beauty named Celia, becomes both her roommate and her passkey to a glittering world of boys and booze and increasingly blurry all-nighters. But Vivian has a lot to learn about human behavior, and what it means to hurt the ones we love. Girls takes a few darker turns as she stumbles toward adulthood, though Gilbert stays true to her pledge that she won’t let her protagonist’s sexuality be her downfall, like so many literary heroines before her. That may be the most radical thing about a novel that otherwise revels in the old-fashioned pleasures of storytelling — the right to fall down rabbit holes, and still find your own wonderland. B+

More book reviews:

City of Girls

type
Book
Genre
Complete Coverage
City of Girls
Outbrain

Tags