Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Publication Date: 4 June 2019
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
I picked up a memoir called ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ at a bookshop I was browsing before a long weekend away with my best friend. It was 2006, and I’d ended my marriage not long before. I read the back of the book, and knew I had to buy this book immediately. I read it non-stop on that weekend away, and got chastised by my friend for reading too much. “This book is really interesting,” I said to her. I gave copies of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ to any of my friends who were going through a divorce. Since then, I’ve become a big fan of Gilbert’s work – I later devoured her book regarding marriage ‘Committed’, I listened to her podcasts, and I’ve heard her speak. I even met her at an event, and told her about my own life journey – I came out after my divorce. Apparently everyone who meets her tells her about their life journey, I later learnt!
In 2013, I excitedly bought Gilbert’s first novel post-Eat, Pray, Love. She had written novels before her memoir, but I hadn’t read them. ‘Signature of All Things’ was a hit for many, but it didn’t really hit the mark for me – so much so that I didn’t even finish it, something I very rarely do. It’s still sitting there, waiting for me. Because of that, I was a little anxious when ‘City of Girls’ was announced. Despite my anxiety, it seemed like it would interest me, and I was excited to give Gilbert’s fiction another try. While I’m not generally a fan of historical fiction, this novel transported me to 1940s New York City, and beyond. In the book, Vivian, now 95, tells us of her life, meeting showgirls who open her eyes to a world she’d never imagined. Her life is exciting, and she’s so different from the other women of her day. Sex, late nights, business, fashion, friendship, adventures and perhaps even some love… I won’t give too much away, but the book intrigued me. More so, Vivian intrigued me – what a strong, independent woman for her day.
I got to know Vivian so well through this book and delighted in her antics. Even the much more minor characters are so richly portrayed. I was completely absorbed by the book, and the richness of the characters. It’s not surprising, then, that I highly recommend the book. I’m determined to go back to ‘Signature of All Things’ now, because the richness that Gilbert wrote with in ‘City of Girls’ was so incredible, and Gilbert is such an incredible story-teller, that I’m sure if I give ‘Signature of All Things’ another try, I might see it differently today.
A word of caution – reviews are mixed. Some say the book is shallow, or there’s too much sex, or too much of this or not enough of that. Others say the book is exciting, captivating and impossible to put down. I’ll let you decide. In the meantime, I’m telling all my female friends and family to read this book.
‘City of Girls’ is now available where all good books are sold.
This guest review was submitted by Raechel, one of our long-time Beauty and Lace Club members. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Raechel.
City of Girls is available now through Bloomsbury and where all good books are sold.