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City of Girls

A Novel
Narrated by: Blair Brown
Length: 15 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (12,068 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the # 1 New York Times bestselling 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, nineteen-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 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," 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) 

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A strong story

I don't give my devotion easily; in fact, I'm probably quite a picky reader. So it thrills me to no end to once again bestow the highest mark to Liz Gilbert for one of her books: City of Girls. I loved it! It made me cringe, and it made me cry, it made me laugh, and it made me want to move to New York City in the 1940s :) I'm so glad I got to go on this journey Liz, just like I loved the journey of The Signature of All Things.
And as Liz would say:
Onwards <3

87 of 95 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Binge Worthy

I’m newer to Audible and this was my first binge book. Gilbert writes the book as a first person narrative so it was wonderful to “hear” the protagonist rather than just read her words. I personally loved all the phases of the book for different reasons. Some parts were juicy, some harrowing, and some just beautiful. There are many one liners I rewound to hear and chuckle a few times. I listened to chapter 31 two times since finishing the book because I found the words and message to be profound.

It is a great summer read that gave me many new and multi dimensional characters to think about. Well done and satisfying!

35 of 38 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I wanted so badly to to like it...

The performance by Blair Brown was stellar.
I wanted badly to like this story, to enjoy it and let it swallow me up like a really great audiobook can do. I have loved other Liz Gilbert books in this way - The Signature of All Things is one of my all-time favorites, for example, and of course everyone adored Eat Pray Love. However, City of Girls left something to be desired. I think, maybe, it could have been two separate stories, instead of this long and drawn out, disjointed one. In any case, I won’t stop reading your books, Liz. Anxiously awaiting whatever’s next.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Meh- with unlikeable characters

I tried for a full third of the book- but the characters are not likable- the premise that it’s a letter to someone doesn’t work and the narrator seems to fit the character perfectly- but as the character isn’t very like able- well.... I tried- I really did, maybe you need to get further along than I did to find the gems.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Two books

First half is awesome. I felt like I was living vicariously through the main character in this 1940s experience.
Second half felt like a whole separate novel. Sullen.
The audible performance was excellent.

38 of 43 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Reader is amazing!

Gilbert did it again, start very light and funny and move to deeper levels of pure human behaviors, yes a lot sex!. Love it, Vivian is a carácter that you will love and know to the bone.

48 of 55 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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The last two hours was interesting

I’m a Gilbert fan however this was my least favorite book she’s written. Some of the most interesting people in the book were dropped and we are left with a self absorbed self important protagonist. Once Frank came into the story it became interesting and thoughtful. However that was only the last two hours. I felt the best part of the story was rushed to a unsatisfying end.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Not up to expectations

This book does not live up to expectation and seems overrated. First part was ok, maybe even good. The second part was disappointing. I almost didn’t finish the book. The main character is difficult to like and the descriptions are superficial. The story lacks depth and the plot is not that interesting. I would not recommend spending time listening to this book. Find something else.

28 of 32 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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There wasn’t a clear storyline...

I was intrigued by the characters and the character development but I just couldn’t find a real point to the story. It also felt segmented into two parts. They almost felt like unrelated stories. I couldn’t finish it.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written, drawn out and tedious story

I loved this book at first. The descriptions of New York are beautiful. However, The plot doesn’t seem to go very many places. It wanders around and there are some events here and there, but it’s really just a biography of this woman’s life. There is no huge mystery, there is no huge climax or turning point in the story… I ended up listening to it two times speed just to get through the rest.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful