Tag Archives: Book Review

Review: City of Girls

City of Girls

City of Girls
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Riverhead Books, 9781594634734, June 2019, 480pp.

The Short of It:

It has all the glitter of Broadway but was a tad too long for my distracted brain.

The Rest of It:

I must start with this. I really liked this book. The subject matter, a struggling New York theater, really appealed to me.

The story opens with Vivian Morris explaining to a young woman named Angela, what exactly went down in New York City, circa 1940, and how she came to know her father, Frank. In telling her story, Vivian goes back to when she was a 19-year-old college dropout. Well-to-do, but without goals. She goes to live with her Aunt Peg, who happens to own a failing theatre company and there she discovers who she really is.

I loved the setting so much. Gilbert does an excellent job of setting the stage. A dusty old theatre, limited talent, little to no money to put on anything other than the formulaic shows that only the locals care to see. Vivian has a knack for costuming and finds herself in the thick of it when a famous actress decides to take up residence at the theatre. Edna, is aging but still as glamorous as can be. Vivian is completely smitten with her so when Pam decides to build an entire show around Edna, Vivian creates the most beautiful costumes for her, but a bad decision down the line changes everything and forces Vivian to reflect on her recent actions.

Vivian’s youth and her affinity for hanging out with one particular showgirl gets her into some trouble. There’s a lot of drinking and philandering and although the book is titled City of Girls, it could easily be titled City of WILD Girls. Their antics are amusing, until they’re not.

A good 100 pages could have been cut from this book but if you were a theatre kid or spend a lot of time in theatre now, as I do, you will appreciate this story and enjoy it. The characters leap off the page and are quite memorable. Overall I enjoyed I enjoyed it very much.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: The Bridge on the Drina

The Bridge on the Drina

The Bridge on the Drina
By Ivo Andric
University of Chicago Press, 9780226020457, August 1977, 314pp.

The Short of It:

An excellent book to discuss with a group.

The Rest of It:

Publisher’s blurb:

The Bridge on the Drina is a vivid depiction of the suffering history has imposed upon the people of Bosnia from the late 16th century to the beginning of World War I. As we seek to make sense of the current nightmare in this region, this remarkable, timely book serves as a reliable guide to its people and history.

This is the book that ruined me for all reading, at least, while it was being read. It’s choppy, full of superfluous details and it’s impossible to remember any of the character’s names, but for a discussion book, it was excellent. It just wasn’t excellent for the other reading I had committed to. I could not read anything else while reading this one.

The Bridge on the Drina  is the type of book that has to be discussed and picked apart. You simply can’t digest it without discussing it in some way. Parts of it put me to sleep but then every now and then there would be this beautifully structured sentence or this profound thought. Ivo Andrić won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961 so the man can write, but as a group we all decided that the book was not written for us. It was a translation, so perhaps some meaning was lost there but it was just a hard story to get through and to feel anything for.

Plus, I didn’t know much about the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina and although there were plenty of details, I felt that many of them were related to the bridge itself, not so much the timeline of events. The author focused on the longevity of the structure and how it remained unchanged while the people who lived in that village came and went with the ebb and flow of their day-to-day life. Things change but they don’t change. You know?

The book includes some violence but not as much as you’d expect. There is one particularly grotesque depiction of a man being skewered alive. Oh! The details. One thing I know, I never would have picked this book up had it not been chosen for a discussion. I also know that it’s incredibly hard to come by. It’s currently out of print and I had to order it through the university I work for. But, if you need a book to discuss, The Bridge on the Drina will definitely get your group talking.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.