Book Club Discussion Questions: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

I started a local book club back in January. We meet the last Saturday of each month. Generally I put three titles into an online survey for members to vote on. But since I knew Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel City of Girls was coming out on June fourth, I made an executive decision for us to read and discuss it at the end of the month!

As always, I went online to search for discussion questions. Even though it’s a new release, I was surprised I couldn’t find any, so I created my own. I’m posting them here for other clubs to use.



Book Club Discussion Questions: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert


  1. What were your general feelings on the book as a whole?


  1. What did you think of the format of the story delivered as a letter written?


  1. A tag line for the book is “You don’t have to be a good girl to be a good person.” What do you think of that idea and how it relates to the characters in the story? And specifically to Vivian?


  1. Did you think Vivian’s indiscretion with Arthur and Cecilia was severe enough to warrant the reaction it did?


  1. New York City is a character in the story, how might it have been different if it was set in another city instead?


  1. Discuss how WWII affected those remaining in the US and the role it played in both Vivian’s life and the story’s narrative.


  1. A theme in the novel is loving people despite their undesirable habits. How was this beneficial for the characters to be giving and receiving of that kind of love?


  1. Unknown to each other, Frank and Vivian were both haunted by that one moment in a car when they were young. What did you think of Frank showing up in Vivian’s life and of their relationship?


  1. What was your favorite part of the novel?

I’d love to hear about how these questions work for your book club. Do you have any others you’d add?


  1. Tina

    July 16, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Here are a few we added from our Women Studies “Shades by Invitation” book discussion group:
    9. If Vivian lived during our time period, what reaction would her actions have received in regards to the Arthur/Cecelia scandal? Her sexuality?

    10. Are women judged more harshly for their sexuality/sensuality than men? Still?

  2. Ramona Mead

    July 17, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Great additions and certainly relevant. Thanks for adding and commenting here. Did your group like City of Girls?

  3. Tina Greene-Bevington

    July 17, 2019 at 11:04 am

    Yes, we all did. We found it thought provoking and it garnered much conversation and opinions. In this book club, we have a few rules, two of which are 1. No judgment and 2. Let’s keep this a safe place.

  4. Theresa

    July 17, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    I am hosting the book club for this book next week, so I’m glad to see your questions. I would
    add another question… Vivian said sex did not make her happy, but SATISFIED. “sex was not part of their story”, between Frank and Vivian. In that vein, Vivian did say Frank made her happy, so did Vivian change because of her friendship with Frank and found the happiness she was missing in her Was it coming of age and wisdom?

    2. All the characters were very avant- gard for the time period. As Vivian says, “we were the first”, when talking about the 60’s flower children and hippies. Do you think that this was because of the “theater people” and their free thinking, and wild abandonment?

    3. When she says, “I never loved the people I was supposed to love”… thoughts?

  5. Ramona Mead

    July 18, 2019 at 8:45 am

    Awesome! I’m happy you found my questions and can use them. Your additions are nice too. It’s certainly a book that sparks a lot of introspection and great discussion!

  6. Tina Greene-Bevington

    July 19, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Love the questions and thoughts also, Theresa! Thanks for sharing such thought provoking discussion points. 🙂

  7. Ann Jameson

    July 23, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    A group of us just started a book club and we’ll meet in a couple of days about this book. I am hoping it sparks much discussion! Thank you for these questions and all the additional thoughts. I thought the book was fabulous. 🙂

  8. Ramona Mead

    July 24, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I’m so glad you found my post and questions. I hope they’re useful for your group. Feel free to come back and let me know how it went!

  9. Carla Goodman

    July 25, 2019 at 9:56 am

    I hosted our book club last night after reading City of Girls. We used your questions but realized there was nothing regarding Nathan or that whole relationship. Also, we never discussed Vivian’s talent as a tailor Guess we had too much food and wine!!.

  10. Ramona Mead

    July 25, 2019 at 10:56 am

    I’m so glad you found my questions to use! Thanks for returning to give me feedback, I genuinely appreciate it. I think there is SO MUCH going on in this novel it’s easy to not cover every aspect when you start discussing it. Sounds like your group has a fun book club, that’s great!

  11. JT Carricarte

    July 28, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you for all the questions and comments. I am meeting with my Goddess Book Club this week, so I will let you know if any additional questions arise. Carla, I chuckled at your wine comment. For a while, we never had wine at our discussions. After a few meetings though, that changed!

  12. Ramona Mead

    July 28, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and using my questions. I’d love to hear how they worked for your group. Happy reading!

  13. Bernice Schmier

    August 11, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Our group will be discussing this book in 2 weeks an these questions an comments will be very helpful Thanks so much.

  14. Ramona Mead

    August 19, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks for using my questions and letting me know. I hope they’re helpful and that your group has a great discussion!

  15. Margie

    August 21, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Our book club is meeting next week to discuss City of Girls. Thank you for these questions which I will share with the group and will let you know if any others come up

  16. Kathleen Willard

    August 24, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, found it so interesting in the social culture of the time and then how things changed with the war. However, the story of Frank Grecco absolutely stunned me. I too felt in love with him. I felt a grief within myself that I didn’t even know was there. How he suffered so terribly simply devastated me as I found him to be such an amazing man. A man of such devotion to his innate value system, a man who truly asked nothing of anyone. That he and Vivian met again made my heart sing, and their shared communication made me think and feel that yes, it is worth living. Now that sounds dire I know but I am 74, a time when one takes stock and Elizabeth somehow captures all the nuances of old age so beautifully for one minute one wants to live forever and then this can change on a dime into if it was right now that ‘s ok. I would love to know how other readers felt about Frank.

  17. Fran Grafman

    August 25, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Our book club is meeting on Tuesday and I have “borrowed” the questions that you all have so thoughtfully posted here. If we come up with others, I will share them. Thank you so much for the questions.

  18. Nancy

    August 26, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Helpful questions. Thanks. I look forward to our group discussion tomorrow and will use your questions as my guide.

  19. Holly

    September 10, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Thanks all for a wonderful selection of Book club questions to select from. This was incredibly helpful. I am the Book Club Chair for the NYC Chi Omega Book Club that routinely has 30+ women in attendance, so I appreciated all the various points of views. One topic we delved into was the following:
    Question: Compare and contrast Vivian’s relationships with Anthony, Jim and Frank? How did the formative male relationships in Vivian’s life, such as her Father and her brother, Walter, inform those relationships? How did the stage of her life, her upbringing, her age, and the external environment help to form those relationships? Why?

  20. Adrienne Simmons

    September 12, 2019 at 7:08 am

    Thanks for your outline. We had book club last night and I added the following:
    – Vivian says “I never loved the people I was supposed to love.” Thoughts?
    – How did you feel about Vivian/Margorie’s living and working arrangement? It was such a success! Similar to Peg and Olive.
    – What do you think of Peg’s acceptance of the destruction of the Lily? Her prophecy that TV would take over theatre?
    – At 19 would you have liked to live in a theatre like the Lily?
    – In Chapter 26 Vivian says “sometimes it’s true….sometimes other people have better ideas for your life than you.”
    Referring to Marjorie buying the building and them starting L’Atelier
    We had a wonderful discussion with ratings range from 7 – 9 out of 10. We would have liked to have read an epilogue chapter by Angela at the end.

    – Who was your favorite character (we had votes for Vivian, Peg and Marjorie)?

  21. Ramona Mead

    September 13, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Those are great additions. Thanks for coming back to comment. Sounds like your club liked the book a lot?

  22. Ramona Mead

    September 13, 2019 at 11:53 am

    I’m glad to hear my post was helpful. Thanks for coming back to comment. I hope you’ll find other useful posts on my site as well 😊

  23. Ramona Mead

    September 13, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Thanks Nancy! I’m glad you found my post helpful, and I hope your group discussion was great. Hopefully you will find other posts on my site useful as well ☺️

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