City of Girls: Jazz Hands

I was so disappointed to piece together midway through that the author of City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert, also wrote Eat, Pray, Love. Not sure what that was so disappointing, except I think there’s something silly about Eat, Pray, Love and so I extended this silliness to City of Girls. And despite being at the top of a bunch of the best of lists for 2019 I think it’s only okay.

We follow Vivian Morris as she gets kicked out of school and joins up with the aunt’s theatre company in New York. Sex, scandal and romping through the streets ensue, as Vivian stretches the bounds of her small town upbringing and confronts the Big City. After a massive betrayal, Vivian is castigated by her once-friend and told that she will never be anyone important and never do anything important (or something to that effect). We take this ‘curse’ and follow Vivian through the rest of her life as she tries to atone for this betrayal. Finding herself never in the arms of ‘true love,’ (thank goodness) but rather making her own family and forming close and meaningful friendships. The message being I suppose that we have to create our own meaning and that friendship is a life work and project.

I think the ‘only okay’ part comes from the saccharine message and the pulp feel to the writing. But there are some fun parties and the occasionally thoughtful scene about what we owe our friends and ourselves when we make mistakes. So sure, read it, but I’d never put this at the top of 2019.


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