Books / Reviews

Book review: City of Girls

City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert.

I felt the lump build in my throat and eyes sting as I finished the last paragraph of this book. 

Whenever I read, I feel I give a piece of myself to the book. The emotional journey I partake in, it takes something from me. But, never more than it gives. Regardless of a book’s merit, you will always learn something. From the story, era or writer’s craft.

This is undoubtedly, a good book.

It’s a long book. 500 pages. But, never once do you wonder when it will end. You will only look at how much you have left and wonder what else can possibly happen. Where will this story take you next. 

I adored it. 

“She was paying me the compliment of her undivided attention, and thus I was instantly smitten.”


I love stories told from the point of view of an older individual. They are some of my favourites. The lives led, in times and eras that we will never know fascinate me. 

“In my experience, this is the hardest lesson of them all. After a certain age, we are all walking around this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. Our hearts grow sore and misshapen around all this pain – yet somehow, still, we carry on.”


At first, the frivolities of Vivian may irritate you, you may wonder where the story of this shallow, vain girl will take you. I was hooked instantly, but have heard from others they found it hard to get into. Commit. Please commit. For, why should a pretty young girl not be wild and free and explore. Vivian transcends her time. 

“People will tell you not to waste your youth having too much fun, but they’re wrong. Youth is an irreplaceable treasure, and the only respectable thing to do with irreplaceable treasure is to waste it. So do the right thing with your youth, Vivian—squander it.”


If you’ve read my reviews so far, you will know that I dislike sharing the plot or the storyline in detail. I don’t want to tell you what to expect, or even really to hint at it, but I know `I loosely have to. Of course, in reading my review you will look for the positives. 

Neither search out the good or bad in a book. Approach without reproach and try as hard as you can without preconceptions. Enjoy your own journey through the pages this story tells. You will learn about big themes: life, love and the war. But you will also encounter race, sexuality, questions on intimacy, marriage and throwing caution to social constructs. You will not consume this book unsullied.

Vivian, while vain and selfish in her younger years, has lived. Truly lived. She is honest to her character and driven by her natural impulses, whilst rejecting the boundaries placed upon her. Quite simply, if Vivian was real, I would want to sit her down and hear this from her lips. 

“…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.”


What I love about this book is it kept going. It followed life and you felt like you were right there living it. There was a point at page 295 where I wondered what else could happen, what further stories were there to be told in 200 more pages. Not because I was bored or wished it to finish, but because I was so deeply taken by the story and how much life was within the pages. 

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


This book is utterly beautiful and not anything like I expected. 

Like the people in Vivian’s life, this book will stay with me. 

Like Aunt Peg explains – once you love someone, that’s it. I feel the same with books.

“Love is like a deep well with steep sides. Once you fall in, that’s it. You will love that person always.

city of girls, elizabeth gilbert