City of Girls
Book review : City of Girls
written by Elizabeth Gilbert, published by Bloomsbury
genre novel / fiction, 466 pages
The first time I got to know Elizabeth Gilbert’s work was in January of 2011. I had just arrived in Sydney and would be traveling Australia and New Zealand the next couple of months. Looking for a new book to read on my journey, I came across Elizabeth’s number 1 best selling work ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. I don’t think I could have picked up a better book to accompany me on my adventure. I’ve reread this autobiographical story about the year the writer spend abroad (in Italy, India and Indonesia) several times, in several different places and circumstances. Every time loving it as much as I did the first time.
Back to now, a few years have passed and in contrast to what I might have expected in 2011, I happily settled down in a small city not far from where I grew up, with the love of my life. I still love to travel, but not necessarily for months on end. I also still love to read, especially when sitting on our comfortable couch in the lovely house we bought (Want to know more? Go to our house).
After the publishing of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth has written several books, although I have to admit that I didn’t read them all. As a follow up to Eat, Pray, Love she wrote some books about marriage and relationships, not really topics of interest to me. But when ‘Big Magic’ -a non-fiction book about creativity and living a creative live (for a book review and an update, click the links)- came out, I couldn’t wait to read it. Despite being very different, both Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic are filled with life lessons and with Elizabeth’s fun, witty and vibrant personality; a personality impossible not to love!
In contrary to Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, Elizabeth’s latest work ‘City of Girls’ is a fictional novel. The story is set in New York City in the 1940’s. It’s both a love story and it’s a memoire, it’s a historical novel and also teaches us many life lessons. Again I can hear Elizabeth’s voice on every page and I wouldn’t be surprised if this fictional story is as personal to the writer, as her most famous autobiographical work.
City of Girls
In City of Girls, 89 year-old Vivian Morris looks back on her life. As a young girl, Vivian never really feels passionate about anything except for working on the sewing machine that she got from her eccentric grandmother who has trained Vivian into an excellent dressmaker. Vivian’s life doesn’t really seem to get started until it’s 1940, when she’s 19 years old and moves to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, the owner of a theater called the Lily Playhouse. There she gets introduced into a world she doesn’t know; the world of theater. Very quickly Vivian becomes the dressmaker of the Lily Playhouse, and she totally falls in love with the theater world, a world that’s filled with excitement, glamour, charisma and sexual freedom.
“When we are young, Angela, we may fall victim
to the misconception that time will heal all wounds
and that eventually everything will shake itself out.
But as we get older, we learn this sad truth:
some things can never be fixed.
Some mistakes can never be put right-not by the passage of time,
and not by our most fervent wishes, either”
– Vivian Morris
Vivian explores her new freedom to the fullest, until it leads to a mistake that will turn her new world upside down. It’s a mistake that she’ll regret for the rest of her life. Looking back, she finally understands the many ways this one mistake has shaped and influenced her life and how it has helped her to find out who she really is; a strong, independent and adventurous woman.
“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.”
– Vivian Morris
It’s January 2020, the year has only just started and City of Girls is the first book I read this year. For sure I’ll read many more books the next couple of months, but already I’m certain this will be one of this year’s favorites. This novel really has it all; it’s got everything I love in that typical Elizabeth Gilbert way. Again she’s written a book that I’ll happily read over and over again.