Jessica Mack on Latest Book Crush

G’Day, I’m Jessica.

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City of Girls

Score: 5/5 Bookmarks

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert will be released on June 4, 2019 and I had been counting the days until I would be able to read it, when I received an advance copy from NetGalley. I’ll attempt to tell you a little about the book, although now that I’ve finished it I’m finding myself at a loss for how to describe it adequately.

I didn’t want to put it down, but at the same time I wanted to take my time and luxuriate in the story for as long as I possibly could. Elizabeth Gilbert has such a magical way of transporting you, fully, to another time and place. Whenever I wasn’t reading City of Girls I found myself thinking about the book, and felt so immersed in the story that her words almost felt like my own memories.

The story takes you through the main character’s life from late teens to old age, her discovery of herself, her sexuality, the relationships and events that shape her. The characters in her life are so rich and real that you’ll swear you can feel the heat of Celia Ray’s smoldering beauty, the unconditional love and acceptance radiating from her Aunt Peg, and feel the knowing, sharp eyes of Edna Parker Watson seeing into your very soul. Underlying all of that there is life in New York City before, during and post World War II. Vivian Morris, our leading lady, is extraordinary for the time she is living in, but also so relatable that you’ll feel like you already know her.

Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it.”

“I could have spent the rest of my life trying to prove that I was a good girl—but that would have been unfaithful to who I really was. I believed that I was a good person, if not a good girl.”

““Thank you for the tribute of your honesty,” he said—which I thought then, and still think, was one of the most elegant things I’d ever heard anyone say.”

“My heart cannot offer him higher praise than that. He became as close to me as my own, beautiful, random, and real family. Love like that is a deep well, with steep sides. Once you fall in, that’s it—you will love that person always.”

I can’t wait to find out who narrates the audiobook, I may just have to listen to it all over again.

I just had to paint Celia Ray the way she looked in my mind.

City of Girls Illustration by Jessica Mack.


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.

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 ninety-five 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. 



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