City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
City of Girls follows Vivian to the heart of NYC's theater scene after her dismissal from college. Written as a lengthy letter from Vivian to a woman named Angela, the novel details her time spent in the city as she spent her twenties growing up and learning about herself and about love.
The 1900-1940s is probably my favorite era to read about, especially when it involves New York City. I can't really define what the draw to that era is for me, but I will read almost anything written about it. City of Girls is one such novel.
Vivian doesn't really understand the world in general. When she moves to NYC to stay with her Aunt Peg, she receives an expansive education in the ways of the world.
This novel isn't exactly heavy on the action. For the most part it's just Vivian telling you about her life. She spends most of he focus on her late teens and early twenties. This is typically when most of us receive our "worldly" education, but having hers set in this era and in NYC adds another layer to it. While Vivian is considered to be of an upper class, in moving to NYC she discovers quickly that she is emotionally more of a country "bumpkin".
Vivian is a talented seamstress and finds herself making the costumes for her Aunt's productions at the theater. It's here that she meets a colorful cast of characters that will shape her life in ways she was not anticipating.
Towards the end of the story, we do eventually find out who Angela is to Vivian. They aren't connected in any way that I think you're going to guess. It was truly one of the more surprising aspects of the book.
I think that if the synopsis sounds good to you, you're probably going to enjoy the book. At times Vivian is too innocent and at times she's too arrogant. But I think that everyone is like that a little and she does not come off as unlikeable when all is said and done.
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