"Eat, Pray, Love" author Elizabeth Gilbert says she wants her latest novel to go down "in one gulp." "City of Girls" is about a young woman coming of age in the glamorous, sometimes scandalous, theater world in the 1940s.
"This is a book about very promiscuous young women behaving very recklessly and experiencing and testing the limits of their power," Gilbert told "CBS This Morning" Monday. "What I said to my editors when I turned it in is I want people to have knock this back in one gulp and not be able to stop reading … I tried to put suspense in it, and action in it, to kind of keep you unable to turn away. And maybe you'll leave feeling a little drunk."
But the story isn't just a booze and sex-filled romp, it's layered with a fictional Broadway play — complete with lyrics written by Gilbert herself — and set within the framework of a letter written by a woman in her 90s.
"She's just gotten a letter from somebody saying 'I want to know who you were to my father back in the day.' The whole book is an answer to that and then within it there's a play," Gilbert explained.
Gilbert, who spent six years researching 1940s New York City, said she chose to set it there and during that time because it's the most "impossibly glamorous" moment in the city's history. And because she set it in the theater world, she got to turn the glamour up a notch.
"This is the second book that I've written that's a historical novel and it is true that it's like learning another language to the point where you immerse yourself for years," she said. "You immerse yourself in it so by the time you sit down to write you're not overthinking. You just know how these people spoke, you know how they dressed, you know what they ate, you know what things cost so that you just disappear yourself into that world."
"City of Girls" goes on sale Tuesday, June 4. Read an excerpt below: