Friday, May 27, 2022

Book Review - Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

My Review

Bloomsbury Girls is a historical novel set in post-war London. Bloomsbury Books is a wonderful, old fashioned bookstore that needs just a bit of change. That change may come in the form of three female employees: Vivien Lowry, an ambitious and forward thinking young woman whose fiance was killed in World War II;  Grace Perkins, a young mother who is working to support her family; and Evie Stone, a bright, very young woman who didn't find her place in academia. 

I wanted to read this book because I love historical fiction, especially books centering on this time period. I worked in bookstores for years, sell vintage books, and found the bookstore setting immensely appealing.

This is such a lovely, engrossing book!  I can't believe I haven't read The Jane Austen Society, which evidently is linked to this story, but now I clearly have to. 

The author does a wonderful job at setting the time and place. She has three distinctly different protagonists, but they are all fully realized characters, appealing and interesting in their own way. I found Vivien's story particularly compelling and especially enjoyed her storyline - which included meeting literary figures like Daphne Du Maurier.

I like the framework of the novel, with chapters that begin with a rule from the bookstore, i.e. "Rule No. 27  Fraternizing with customers outside the shop is strictly prohibited" (eBook location 1311). Of course, the following chapter relates to each rule.

I have already started telling friends about Bloomsbury Girls, which I enthusiastically recommend for fans of historical fiction, especially for anyone who loves bookstores and a bookish setting.

Book Synopsis

Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances--most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she's been working to support the family following her husband's breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she's working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time--Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others--these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

Author Bio

Natalie Jenner is the author of two books, the instant international bestseller THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY (2020) and the forthcoming BLOOMSBURY GIRLS (2022). A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for best historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller, and has been sold for translation in twenty-one countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

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1 comment:

Laurel Ann Nattress said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Trish. I also enjoyed being in a London bookshop with the characters and look forward to Jenner's next novel.