Justin Tate's Reviews > City of Girls

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
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really liked it

City of Girls is a genre-bending, uniquely-structured, light-hearted, deeply-profound kind of novel, whatever that means. I'm honestly still in awe of it. The first half has zero conflict and yet never fails to engage. I devoured every moment of being young and careless in 1940's New York, amid showgirls and theater personalities. This glorious fantasy is so enrapturing it doesn't matter if nothing goes wrong. In fact, I prefer it that way. Arguably, when the complications do show up, the novel peters out. Writers are constantly taught that conflict is everything, but in a way Gilbert proves the experts wrong. Perhaps, as the novel suggests of the 1940s, this is a sign of the times. When the world is conflicted enough, we prefer pleasure over drama.

When the second half takes a more serious turn, it's a little disappointing. Everything was so wonderful! Why did you have to ruin it? The answer, of course, is that real life isn't all fun and feathers. Gilbert succeeds in the grittier sections by showing us that, even in the realm of adult consequences, it's possible to move beyond mistakes, be true to yourself, and ultimately live a fabulous life.

Other than feeling a little long in places, I have no complaints. Full disclosure, I listened to the audio version which was so masterfully narrated that I have no doubt it enhanced the experience. Dancing through the streets of New York is a great distraction on the daily commute, but may struggle to demand my attention in bed after a long day. If anybody transitioned from book to audio, I'm curious to hear how the experience differed.
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Reading Progress

December 24, 2018 – Shelved
December 24, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
June 4, 2019 – Started Reading
June 7, 2019 –
June 18, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)

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Toni Great review, Justin. I’m in the process of listening to the audio after having read the book. Enjoying the audio very much. And I’m super picky about narrators, if their voice doesn’t kiss my ears just the right way, I can’t listen to it. It’s dead to me. I’m a migraine sufferer since childhood, so I’m probably an exception. Thanks, loved your review! 😊

message 2: by William (new)

William Thank you for the review!

Elyse  Walters Fantastic review Justin!!!!

Justin Tate Thank you guys! And @Toni I’m right with you there. Some audio productions give me a headache. This one is all bliss though :)

Whitney Great review!!

message 6: by Laurene (new)

Laurene Wonderful review!

Whitney Great review, this sounds really interesting!

Jane Gregg Not sure why you call it genre bending? Can you elaborate?

Justin Tate @Jane sure! It’s deeper than typical romance or “women’s fiction” but also much more light-hearted than drama. And it’s also a fun spin on WWII stories—the war is there, is significant, but also not really. Have you read it? What’s your take on its genre?

Taylor This is a great review. You explained exactly how I felt about the book :)

message 11: by Toni (new) - rated it 5 stars

Toni Aliskowitz Funny, I loved the book entirely for it’s second half. But your review lets me see the joy in its lighthearted side.

message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Great review!

message 13: by Hope (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hope Caldwell I felt the same way about the second half. It was a little deflating to see the fun, fizzy bubble of a story come to a very abrupt stop. And the hangover after was rough-but the second half did give the book depth and made it more than just summer fluff. While I enjoyed reading the first half, it’s the second half that will stay with me more.

Justin Tate @Hope well said!!

Kristine So well said! Agree 2nd half was harder to read with the serious turn but you’re right...real life isn’t all fun and feathers! I loved it overall!

Marian Determan I enjoyed the second half much more than the first. She finally loved herself to do her things and she did them to perfection.

Cathy Very nice review. I thought the first half was interesting, but it took a long time for her to become a more nuanced woman - was almost afraid that Edna’s pronouncement might be true. Loved the last chapters of the book!

Gerrianne Love the insight of human frailty, love life,and how we perceive it Enjoyed the story completely

Justin Tate @Gerrianne yes!! The themes really come together beautifully. I’m glad to see Amazon editors touting this as their favorite read of the year “so far” - the acclaim is well-deserved.

Judith Siller-Levy A very nice review. I gave it four stars because I thought overall the read for 2/3 of it was very good. I like the way she wrote maybe even more than the story itself. I just felt like the ending was a bit of a bail out and the book should’ve been maybe 100 pages shorter. But other than that I really enjoyed the first part and was happy to share the book with my friends

message 21: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin I thought it was natural for the book to take a more serious turn in the second half...the narrative mirrored her life’s circumstances in some ways...the first part she was coasting along on her parent’s dime and just bring young and carefree...and then as she got older and had more serious endeavors and concerns, the book became grittier.

message 22: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin Oh, and I agree that the narration was perfect!!! I loved this as an audiobook.

message 23: by Dena (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dena I am about to do the audio, so greatly thankful for your review! (It's easier to take a slow book with a great reader/actor than it is to READ a slow part of a book!)

Trish Hofstetter Agreed! I loved the first half of this book from a historical charm and character perspective and felt the second half was a separate love story not nearly as good.

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