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City of Girls

A Novel
Written by: Elizabeth Gilbert
Narrated by: Blair Brown
Length: 15 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (746 ratings)

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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

What the critics say

"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) 

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Okay

This book was pretty okay to listen to. Sometimes the repetition of a point said 10 different ways was annoying but overall the story was good and the lady reading the book was amazing at keeping all the characters voices straight. Not sure I am the biggest fan of it being written like letter to someone, but the story was original. Overall I would recommend.

6 people found this helpful

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<br />Fabulous

I absolutely loved getting to know the dynamic character Vivian. The narrator is phenomenal, jumping from one voice to another. I never wanted it to end

1 person found this helpful

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Thank You for Helping Me Make Sense of My Life

This book is a must read for any woman who has grown up in a world of patriarchy and had to live with rules around feminine sexuality that don't make an ounce of sense. I can finally embrace my experience without guilt or shame. Thank you.

1 person found this helpful

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A wonderful feel-good story

I was searching for an uplifting, fun story and this book gave me exactly what I wanted. An easy listen, performance of the narrator was excellent and the story plot itself was excellent. I would definitely recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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wonderful!

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. such an amazing story and so well told. thank-you.

1 person found this helpful

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Couldnt stop listening

i was absolutely thrilled with this book. I never read fiction and couldnt help myself but get wrapped up in this one. So many twists and turns. It was provocative, emotional, and empowering. So happy I read it.

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Odd choice of Narrator

Though the age of the narrator suits the last few hours the first 10 feel awfully. Odd. As the character is 18-25 and the narrator is an older lady. I feel as though this made the book less enjoyable for me. The book itself was pretty good.

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Thoroughly engaged!

The story drew me in and brought me on such a wonderful Journey right from the beginning and right to the end. So very descriptive! Loved the New York scenes and the character development. Thank you so much Elizabeth Gilbert loved it!

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Perfect

Excellent story, fabulous narrator ! I'm very pleased with this book. Along with Eat Pray Love, City of Girls is my favorite book from Liz Gilbert.

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Wow! Love love loved it

Amazing story! Blair Brown made this book sooo enjoyable as well! Her voices are amazing and I’m already going to miss them dearly while doing my day to day. I pray another book so beautiful and groundbreaking comes my way soon

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  • Amy L. Jones
  • 2019-06-24

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.

37 people found this helpful

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  • Anita Kristensen
  • 2019-06-08

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

98 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 2019-07-14

Never got interesting

I’ve liked Gilbert’s writing but the whole time I was wondering what the point of this story was. Seemed like it dragged out to tell a very mediocre story with a somewhat unlikeable lead. The narrator was fine, but overall disappointing.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Beth Anderson
  • 2019-06-14

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!

46 people found this helpful

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  • Gilma M. Salazar
  • 2019-06-07

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.

52 people found this helpful

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  • Ana Del Valle Brown
  • 2019-06-13

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.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Megan
  • 2019-07-20

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.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Shannon Childers
  • 2019-06-30

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.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Max and Kimmy
  • 2019-07-01

Glitzy, Glamorous and Shallow

This book was fine. I got through in a few days, mostly because it was an easy listen with not much going on. You can tune out a bit listening to it and not really miss anything. I was a bit disappointed that we spent nearly half the book going through excruciating detail about the single year of 1941, with was frivolous and shallow for the most part, and then spend a fraction of the time going through the war years, and then get right back to the shallow frivolousness of post war Vivian and New York City. I feel like those years would have had a greater impact on Vivian. Every time something hard happens to her, it barely takes up any of the narrative and before we are right back to the happy, shallow life that she leads. It felt as though she's not learning or being affected at all by these hard times. For example, the way in which she lost her virginity didn't seem to have an impact on her (which for 100% of the women I know, no matter how it went, it had SOME sort of impact.) The book doesn't portray real life in the least, and makes Vivian come off as being empty and superficial. And the way the narrative refers to Angela, in her writing comes off as patronizing and it began hitting a nerve every time she did it (which was often!)

I also think the book could have been about 3/4 of the length, cutting way down on the 1941 bit and maybe expanding more on the character's development. Just my two cents!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Live
  • 2019-07-04

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.

32 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-12-07

This book is a rough diamond

This book is literally a rough diamond of feminism, a beautiful story of life, sex, social morality and real love. Elisabeth Gilbert is, once again, showing to the world how great a writer she is ! ❤️

1 person found this helpful

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  • Client d'Amazon
  • 2019-08-07

Excellent!

I've really enjoyed this novel due to the charming characters, time and writing way. To be read!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Aude
  • 2019-07-11

Sensible, émouvant, captivant

Magnifique roman. Les personnages sont vrais, attachants, l’histoire de Vivian Morris est bien construite, drôle, rude et triste. On y parle de résilience, de sororité, de tolérance et de de la vie dont les coups n’épargnent personne mais qui continue et peut redevenir belle. Elisabeth Gilbert a, à nouveau, écrit un livre qui fait du bien.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nicki Ludwig
  • 2020-05-05

Beautifully written and interpreted !

I loved the story but what I truly enjoyed was Blair Brown’s interpretation, she has an amazing voice and you can imagine her reading this book, wearing one of Vivianne’s creation, gin fizz in one hand and cigarette in the other ! I have never had the pleasure to hear such a riveting performance in an audio book. Peg would be proud :)

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  • Andrea van Tuyl
  • 2020-04-16

Simply Perfect

Elizabeth Gilbert makes story writing, narration and dialogue seem effortless. Blair Brown tells it with the same natural flow. Elizabeth Gilbert doesn't tell a story TO you, but brings a story that is already in you, to life. Even if you've never been a 19 year old woman in NYC. Blair Brown's voice was simply perfection. I wish I had the skill of a writer to do this book justice.... I'll have to settle for 'it was wonderful'.

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  • Mum 71
  • 2020-03-22

Boring

Boring, superficial, badly written. I returned it. Boring, superficial, badly written. I returned it. I liked the reader.