• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Young Vivian's carousing in 1940s New York City is entertaining, sexy, and an interesting burst of feminism and freedom in the era.

In City of Girls, Gilbert writes about a young woman's coming of age in 1940s New York City and traces the later years of her life as well.


Vivian, now an older woman, is writing letters to a younger woman about her own youthful indiscretions and adventures in her aunt Peg's rowdy theatre with its many colorful characters, creative opportunities, and unending potential for mischief.


It's not entirely clear why the recipient of the letter would want to hear the full details of Vivian's life, because the majority of the goings-on feel largely beyond the scope of Vivian's reason for writing, but I didn't much care about this potential issue because I loved every bit of Vivian's story. At the very end of the book Vivian writes something wonderfully matter-of-fact to Angela regarding this; words to the effect of, "well, this is more info than what you asked for, but I just wanted to let you know all about me." Hers was a fascinating life, and I adored reading about it. (Actually, I listened to this as an audiobook, and the narrator Blair Brown was fantastic.)


Gilbert's old New York detail is wonderful, as is the dressmaking detail--I was captivated by it. (Is this influenced by my teenage love for Pretty In Pink or my youthful Little House on the Prairie adoration? Both?) Young Vivian's carousing is entertaining, sexy, and an interesting burst of feminism and freedom in an era when many believed that a woman's reputation and purity were of utmost importance.

Any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Gilbert is a lovely writer who authored the very interesting nonfiction book Last American Man and the peaceful, botanical-focused novel The Signature of All Things. She also wrote the somewhat polarizing bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, which I had mixed feelings about, like many other readers.


I mentioned this book in the Greedy Reading List Three Books I'm Reading Now, 1/6/21 Edition.