“City Of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Another week – another read: this time it was “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have not read any other work by Gilbert, although I know that she is a well-known author. The main reason why I picked up the book is because it was mentioned in several interviews as an example of a good fiction that came out recently. I do agree that it was good!

The story takes place in New York City in 1940s – we are following the protagonist who is the 19-year old girl Vivienne from the rich family who just dropped out of the Vassar College and comes to live in the New York with her aunt Peg who runs a theatre company. Although, Vivienne does not act or sing or write, she can sew pretty well so she joins the theatre in the capacity of the costume maker. From the moment, she moves to New York City, she sets herself on the journey of the sensual exploration by hanging out with NYC showgirls until Vivienne gets herself into scandal and eventually finds the true love.

When I am writing the “true love”, you are probably thinking about “living happily ever after” scenario – but it is not the case in the book. She meets Frank, who is the war veteran and who can not be touched because of his post-war condition. He also can not sit for a long time or remain in a closed space: as a man of an exceptional intelligence, he is forced to take the position of the patrolman – so Vivienne and Frank walk and talk. And this is their kind of love.

And that’s exactly what I liked about this book – it does not pretend playing “happily ever after”. Life, after all, is complex and we are complex, and human relationship are complex – it is never black and white.

the world ain’t straight. Your grow up thinking things are a certain way. You think there are rules. You think there’s a way that things have to be. You try to live straight. But the world doesn’t care about your rules or what you believe. The world ain’t straight, vivian. nEVER WILL BE. tHE WORLD JUST HAPPENS TO YOU SOMETIMES, IS WHAT i THINK. aND PEOPLE JUST GOTTE KEEP MOVING THROUGH IT, BEST WAY THEY CAN”.

It is going to be hard for me to beat “Educated” by Tara Westover that I read this year. That book was so good and set such a high bar but “City of Girls” is good in a different way. It brings lightness and joy to you and makes you treat yourself just a little bit less serious.

The war had invested me with an understanding that life is both dangerous and fleeting, and thus there is no point in denying yourself pleasure or adventure while you are here.

Read it – you will enjoy it! And one final quote:

You must learn in life to how to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it. Someone makes a promise, and then they break it. A play gets good notices, and then it folds. A marriage looks strong, and then they divorce. For a while there’s no war, and then there’s another war. If you get too upset about it all, you become a stupid unhappy person – and where’s the good in that?


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