New York City, April 2010
I received a letter from his daughter the other day.City of Girls
I'd thought about Angela many times over the years, but this was only our third interaction.
The first was when I'd made her wedding dress, back in 1971.
The second was when she'd written to tell me her father had died. That was 1977.
Now she was writing to let me know that her mother had just passed away. I'm not sure how Angela expected me to receive this news. She might have guessed it would throw me for a loop. That said, I don't suspect malice on her part. Angela is not constructed that way. She's a good person. More important, an interesting one.
I was awfully surprised, though, to hear that Angela's mother had lasted this long. I'd assumed the woman had died ages ago. God knows everyone else has. (But why should anyone's longevity surprise me, when I myself have clung to existence like a barnacle to a boat bottom? I can't be the only ancient woman tottering around New York City, absolutely refusing to abandon either her life or her real estate.)
It was the last line of Angela's letter, though, that impacted me the most.
"Vivian," Angela wrote, "given that my mother has passed away, I wonder if you might now feel comfortable telling me what you were to my father?"
What was I to her father?
Only he could have answered that question. And since he never chose to discuss me with his daughter, it's not my place to tell Angela what I was to him.
I can, however, tell her what he was to me.
by Elizabeth Gilbert
I've only read the first three chapters of Elizabeth Gilbert's new novel, but have already fallen in love with Vivian's voice. That quip about NYC real estate had me laughing out loud! There's quite a bit of buzz and hype surrounding City of Girls, but I'm trying to keep my expectations in check. So far, it's a lot of fun and the pages are turning quickly.
Here is a portion of the goodreads summary:
In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves - and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.
Now ninety-five years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life - and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. "At some point in a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time," she muses. "After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is." Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other.What do you think? Would you continue reading?
First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intro is hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach.