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 book blog city of girls Elizabeth Gilbert


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.

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