Novel of the week
City of Girls
“The best and worst thing that can be said about City of Girls is that it’s perfectly pleasant, the kind of book one wouldn’t mind finding in a vacation condo,” said Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Author Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for the memoir Eat Pray Love, has written better novels, and here she uses 470 pages to tell a simple story: Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris, after flunking out of Vassar, heads to New York City in 1940, falls in with a theater crowd, and starts chasing adventure and sexual pleasure during a year that changes her life. Vivian recounts it all in a letter she’s writing at 90 in response to a question about a man, and as that query goes unanswered, “it comes to feel as though the best part of the story is waiting in the wings,” said Caroline Leavitt in The Boston Globe. But the reveal, when it finally arrives, produces a “glorious” ending. A book that’s initially “as refreshing as a fizzy summer drink” becomes “more like fine wine,” a profound meditation on the ways people choose to live.