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City of Girls

Written by: Elizabeth Gilbert
Narrated by: Blair Brown
Length: 15 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The blazingly brilliant new novel from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the international best seller Eat Pray Love: a glittering coming-of-age epic stitched across the fabric of a lost New York. 

It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Although her quicksilver talents with a needle and commitment to mastering the perfect hair roll have been deemed insufficient for her to pass into her sophomore year of Vassar, she soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg's charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses. 

Exile in New York is no exile at all: here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to be free, to get up to no good, to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. And when the legendary English actress Edna Watson comes to the Lily to star in the company's most ambitious show ever, Vivian is entranced by the magic that follows in the wake of this true, true star. 

But there are hard lessons to be learned and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new. 

'At some point in a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is,' she confides. And so Vivian sets forth her story, and that of the women around her - women who have lived as they truly are, out of step with a century that could never quite keep up with them.

©2019 Elizabeth Gilbert (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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lovely book and performance is lovely too .

Its my first book and thank you , I had a wonderful experience listening to it.What a wonderful voice !

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A woman’s pain.

the book city of girls is written by a feminist.

Every single female’s portrayal was dealt sensitively with a message
And every single male was portrayed with a woman’s perspective of their shortfalls..


Such a beautiful book.

I really loved it.

It was close to my heart.

This book reflects the pain every single woman I know, who goes through pain with every single relationship with a man.



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Its not really a love story

I approached this read as a coming if age story. But this book is so much more than that. Its feminist literature at its best - assertive, not aggressive. Such a different unapologetic protagonist. I obviously loved it. And for me the most beautiful part was the gift of Vivian to Angela. Thats love right there.

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what a fine read!

never thought some body could define frivolity worthy such compassion and grace. love you Elizabeth. you are my favourite. love your style and tone. the narrator is awesome too. had added a dimension to the story. kudos.

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Glorious read/listening.

I feel like I've lived a hundred years through this book. I'm having to remind myself that what I just read was just a fiction, not an autobiography. It really is that lively and vivid. It's rich with experience and you can almost see the NYC of early 1900s. I'm sure you can relate some bit to many characters and get angry at some of them their dumbness and weep at some of their suffering. It's all just so beautiful and made me think about large from a larger perspective. And the narrator, oh God! I was a little sad at first for it's not naratted in Gilbert's own voice but the narattor is terrific. She brought the story to life. Such expression, such accurate accent.. Everything just so beautiful. I rejoiced the whole experience of listening to this book.

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  • Annabel Roberts
  • 20-08-19

A delight

What a light and joyful yet significant story. It was stunningly read. I loved it!

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  • KeziaLivesLegendary
  • 15-06-19

Such a Beautiful story

Loved, loved, loved. Elizabeth Gilberts books are always amazing. Perfect choice on the narrators. Didn't stop listening.
I really enjoyed the character's

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  • Jennifer
  • 11-06-19

Brimming with wisdom and throughly entertaining

This book lived up to my every expectation. I'm devastated that I've finished it, but feel so enriched.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andries
  • 09-06-19

Exception

I have found this story telling so sublime and real without hesitation of facts that society always try to cover up.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-04-20

Review

Loved it.... Couldn't wait to come back to it and hear that warm soothing voice 👍

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-03-20

Excellent read

The narrator was fantastic! The story felt light and deeply comforting. Such a great book.

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  • Francisca
  • 22-01-20

Meandering

I found this story disjointed and meandering- lots of under developed relationships and characters. Feels like she was trying to do too much with this book. The reading and performance however was fantastic

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-01-20

City of Girls. What a thrill!

Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for filling countless hours of oil painting with the company of your beautifully written book.

City of Girls was a thrill to listen to. I mostly listened to the colorful and beautifully narrated story while at my easel- and to be truthful- also as a bedtime story before falling asleep. I spend a fair amount of my time alone- with a pilot husband who is away half of our life... Your novel has kept me entertained and captivated every single minute of my time alone.

Blair Brown has done a brilliant job in narrating the tender, often shocking yet fascinating story of real life and the flavor and delicate sadness which accompanies it.

Your truthful story line, the harsh realty of being different to what society demands and the freedom of living an honest life, true to oneself, has been exhilarating to say the least.

The closing line- although honest and truthful, left me wanting the novel to have a sequel.

Thank you for the lessons. The truth. And the wisdom.

I wish I could listen to the story again. Without ever having heard it before.

I so wish there was more.

Thank you.

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  • Tahna Prince
  • 09-10-19

What a treat.

I adored this book.
I fell in love with the characters & found it to be interesting & engaging the whole way through ❤️

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  • Emma Seibold
  • 28-08-19

I loved this book

This was such a joy to read and there was magic in every sentence and phrase.

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  • taylors2002
  • 21-06-19

One of my favourite ever audibles

I bought this book without reading what it was about, just because I adore Elizabeth Gilbert from her social media pages - even though admittedly I'd only read Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic previously. I expected Elizabeth to be narrating and thought it was likely a positive inspiration or guidance type of book, so I was a bit taken back to hear a different voice. I find it so difficult to connect with narrators- either loving or hating it. Well I LOVE Blair Brown, I can't even imagine Elizabeth narrating it, Blair is incredible with all the different accents and characters, I wouldn't have picked this book of the shelf but I'm so glad I downloaded it - it's definitely one that should be 'listened' to so you can really take in the surroundings and especially the characters. It's kind of slow-paced but deliberately - between Elizabeth and Blair you are taken back in time to 1940's New York City and I honestly felt like I was there, witnessing a snap shot in time, a life so different from my own but one I would jump at to live in for a while. You don't understand the person she is writing to until towards the end of the book but this one way letter format is perfect. It sounds much less self-obsessed and you really connect with the main character; Vivian. I must confess I put audible on whilst I do boring jobs or the school run to make that time more enjoyable - but I would listen to this every chance I got, it's more about feeling like you are there living it more than a story of dramas, I think there IS only 1 major drama half way through, the rest is just experiencing and enjoying, it's so plausible that this was someones life I wondered a few times if it was a true story, there are certainly true parts about the war in it - whilst the war is always kind of background anyway. When it ended I had that book-grief , a hole you're not sure how to fill because there'll not be anything quite the same but you're not ready for something new or different yet. Like you get with series-binging too. It was FABULOUS, Elizabeth & Blair have created a masterpiece between them in my eyes (or ears)

11 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-08-19

Enchanting I lived every minute of this book

I love the way Elizabeth Gilbert writes. I feel I witnessed every moment of Vivienne’s life . Very humbling a lesson to be learned not to be judgemental about how people live their lives.Thank you

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  • holly bird
  • 11-06-19

Enjoyable but doesnt hit the mark.

Elizabeth Gilbert has done, as usual, a whole load of research in order to write this novel. It was very a very entertaining story and at times, thought provoking, but ultimately it left me feeling unsatisfied. Listen to her previous novel The Signature of All Things. Fabulous book.

5 people found this helpful

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  • sophie
  • 24-10-19

Stuck with it

I was unsure for quite a while but loved it in the end. One of my favourite authors.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-10-19

Sinfully witty, delightful and profound!

I have been dreading the end of this book. I wanted to postpone it but here we are. It’s an entire world on its own and the characters are are more real than you can imagine ! It is nothing short of an absolute masterpiece which will touch your soul in a thousand different ways. Also, It’s def a book you can reread and discover new things every single time. Elizabeth Gilbert, we are in your depth. Thank you!

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  • Claudia
  • 01-06-20

Such a great book, witty and glamorous

Brilliant read, maybe my favourite audible yet!

Well researched and very detailed. The story is wonderfully glamorous but not without tales of woe and life lessons. Amusing but thought provoking and a great insight into the roaring past of New York City at wartime.

Highly recommended.

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  • Celeste A.
  • 18-05-20

Beautiful book!

So well written, so well researched. Couldn’t stop listening, amazing voice over too. Best one yet from Elizabeth Gilbert!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-05-20

Beautiful story, Beautifully read

Absolutely loved it. Compelling, mesmerising, transported me to another world. A world of debauchery and glamour, but also of lessons learnt whilst growing up, and the pain that comes with something so devastating as the second world war

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-05-20

A real gem

Beautiful descriptive voyage of a woman in 1940s New York... female emancipation, nostalgic and fun!

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  • Kat
  • 07-05-20

WOW.

Such a colourful, thorough and beautifully told story (by both Gilbert and Brown). I was hooked the whole way through and felt emotional when it all ended! Amazing job done by amazing women. Thoroughly enjoyed this story. Big thanks.

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  • michelle
  • 28-07-19

Was hooked within the first chapter

I was worried I wouldn't love this as much as eat love pray, but Elizabeth didn't disappoint.

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  • Ms I L-Harding
  • 23-10-19

Wonderful

What a joy and pleasure to indulge in such a beautifully told, wise and heartfelt, fun and insightful story and wondrous performance.
Just loved it. Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for such a gorgeous gift and Blair Brown for such a telling.

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  • nicolle
  • 16-10-19

Amazing read

This is the best book I have ever listened to.
Everything about it has captured me.
The characters are not predictable, the story line is captivating and I will be sad when I am finished.
I actually felt like I was living in the story.

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  • shelley
  • 02-08-19

Really? This got rave reviews?

I liked Gilbert's novel: The Signature of All Things, very much. Was excited to listen to this. Drawn in in the beginning; getting annoyed at bad writing a little past the beginning; irritated by the lack of editing and predictability — same use of sentence construction; loads of 'telling' and explaining and clichéd characterisations... and gave up. Not recommended.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Stella
  • 21-08-19

Keep your expectations low

The Signature of All Things is one of my favourites so I had great hope for City of Girls. I could not get into this story, I kept hoping it would get better so persevered until the end. I wouldn’t recommend this one to a friend so I’m not recommending it to you.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Phil Botterill
  • 05-01-20

dissapointing

struggled to stay with story....very bland storyline . I tried throughout to understand the point, it never arrived.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-10-19

I LOVED THIS!

Elizabeth Gilbert you have done it again. I could just imagine myself back in NY in the 30’s the story was like a roller coaster I did not expect it to end the way it did. Heart break, humour, pain, and transformation as I listened to the book, I could feel the characters and experiences with in myself. You are a brilliant writer, I applaud you and WHEN IS THE MOVIE COMING OUT?

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-10-19

New York a stunning backdrop

Initially the New York accent grated on my ears, but the story soon won me over, at which time the accent became essential, even enjoyable.
City of Girls is a wonderfully insightful feminist view of (among other things) theatrical life from the late 1930’s through the war years, following the life of one woman and finishing when she is in her nineties.
Full of interesting characters and descriptions of the changes through the decades of New York City and some of its inhabitants as the main character comes to terms with her own values and lifestyle.
I was constantly fascinated with this story, so far removed from my own life, extending to me a glimpse of times and places I had never known.
As a woman I was particularly interested in the main character’s struggle as a woman living an unconventional life. This is also essential reading for the intelligent male interested in this alternative viewpoint.
Absolutely highly recommended.

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  • Canning
  • 22-11-19

City of Girls.

Worst book ever. Whilst parts were interesting from the era, the whole story seemed misdirected and disconnected from the beginning to the end in discovering the conclusion of who Angela was in relation to the life of the heroine. I struggled to finish it. I might not have but for spending several hours a day driving and captive.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-11-19

Great narration

I only enjoyed this story when listening on audible - when reading it was tedious, annoying and felt that the author had missed many important women’s issues that could have been made in reflections on wartime women experiences.

1 person found this helpful