I never actually did read or watch Eat, Pray, Love so my disdain for the work of Elizabeth Gilbert was purely by cultural osmosis. I can’t say City of Girls did much to elevate her for me, though. It wasn’t bad, but neither was it good. It just kind of … was.
The novel is narrated as a confessional of sorts, an older woman telling a younger woman the story of how she met her father so the whole meat of the story is in extended flashbacks. Much like the show for which I named this review, though, the focus is 90% her own life and 10% the man they have in common. If I were the daughter, I’d be pretty pissed about my wasted time.
The bulk of the flashbacks are about Vivian’s (the narrator) time spent living with her aunt in a theater in New York City. The U.S. is just pulling out of the Depression, Europe is falling into WWII, and Vivian just cares about booze and boys. The problem is that “rich white girl politely debauches her way across New York” is at this point just dull. When she cleans her act up and launches a custom bridal boutique, now that had the potential to be interesting, but unfortunately this is not really where Gilbert points her story. There are some great side characters (such as her aunt) but they’re all given the short shrift for the been-there-done-that character of Vivian. The only way it could have been less interesting is if she were a man.
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