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City of Girls  By  cover art

City of Girls

By: Elizabeth Gilbert
Narrated by: Blair Brown
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Publisher's summary

An Instant New York Times Best Seller!

From the number-one best-selling author of Eat Pray Love and The Signature of All Things, a delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don't have to be a good girl to be a good person.

"A spellbinding novel about love, freedom, and finding your own happiness." (PopSugar)

"Intimate and richly sensual, razzle-dazzle with a hint of danger." (USA Today)

"Pairs well with a cocktail...or two." (TheSkimm)

"Life is both fleeting and dangerous, and there is no point in denying yourself pleasure, or being anything other than what you are."

Beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction with a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret (but mostly pleasure), City of Girls explores themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love.

In 1940, 19-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, 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 the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and 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 it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads 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, a love that stands out from all the rest.

Now 89 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", she muses. "After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is." Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other.

©2019 Elizabeth Gilbert (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Blair Brown delivers a superb narration of Elizabeth Gilbert's novel, which features the recollections of a 95-year-old New York seamstress who came of age during WWII. Brown's straightforward, charming depiction illuminates the vivacious young woman the wistful elderly narrator remembers, and her conversational pacing creates vibrant pictures for the listener." (AudioFile Magazine)

"With all the conversations about sexual consent, it's risen up around the #MeToo movement... This author doesn't want us to forget there's also such a thing as female desire, the main character wants to have sex and she's not shy about hunting for it." (Whoopi Goldberg, The View "Ladies Get Lit Summer Reads 2019'")

"Delightful…Terrific characters, gorgeous clothing, great one-liners, convincing wartime atmosphere, and excellent descriptions of sex…Don't miss out on her wonderful novels any longer." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"Gilbert takes us to New York City in the glamorous 1940s, where the sex was plentiful and showgirls just wanted to have fun." (Oprahmag.com)

Featured Article: The Best Historical Fiction Audiobooks


Often based on real people, events, and scenarios, historical fiction gives us the opportunity to learn about worlds and times we will never experience while introducing fascinating characters and stories set in their midst. Sometimes, the genre can even give us a peek into hidden storylines that routinely go unmentioned in traditional history books, showing us that those of ages past are perhaps not so different from ourselves.

Editor's Pick

Looking back with no regrets
"Vivian Morris is a 95-year-old woman who looks back on her youthful indiscretions with zero regrets. Zero. From the time she arrived at her Aunt Peg's rundown Manhattan theater at age nineteen, escaping the rigor and elitism of 1940's Vassar, Vivian enthusiastically sought out the kind of life lessons best taught by show girls. She considered those years of youthful hedonism as the best of her life—living with intent and absolutely no shame—and (almost surprisingly) she was not destroyed by it! Narrator Blair Brown's performance is amazing. She captures the spirit of this dauntless NYC woman and a place and time forever immortalized in Gilbert's glittery prose."
Tricia F., Audible Editor