City of Girls
Written By Elizabeth Gilbert
Published by Riverhead Books on June 4, 2019
470 pages; Historical Fiction
Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College in 1940, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to the playboy actor, a grande-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and a no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, it will lead her to a new understanding of the kind of life. she craves – and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life.
Now eighty-nine years. old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life – and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. “At some point in a woman’s life, she just. gets tired. of being ashamed all the time,” Vivian muses. “After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.”
I found that books written during World War II has become a very prolific genre at the moment. That being said, I ready a plethora of them, Including City of Girls. Most of them have been set in England and dealing with women who fought in the War. City of Girls comes from a different perspective: an American girl in New York City. I had very high exceptions of this book; However, I was a little disappointed.
The book begins with an interesting narrative. Vivian Morris, our protagonist, is writing a very lengthy letter to a mysterious Angela. We do not know who this Angela is; but will find out at the conclusion of the book. I did enjoy this type of writing style. It felt very personal and great way of telling a story. I felt immersed in the story from the very beginning.
My main criticism of the book is that I found it very disjointed. The different stages of Vivian’s life did not feel very connected to me. It did not seem fluid but abrupt with no relationship between each different path she took. I felt almost that there were at least three different Vivians.
Another of my criticisms is that I felt Vivian wasn’t realistic character that would live the 1940s New York. Her character seemed too independent, modern and promiscuous. I know that sounds a little prudish; but I have read hundreds of books of this time period, dealing with all kinds of storylines, and it just didn’t seem realistic to me. It was really hard for me to believe that there actually could be a Vivian living in New York City during World War II. I just didn’t get it.