The Jane Austen Society was high up on my TBR list last year and I enjoyed it, but when I saw Natalie Jenner was publishing this book, I was thrilled! The Jane Austen Society was just ok for me, I liked it but there were a few bumps that I felt needed to be ironed out, however I liked it well enough to be eager for Jenner’s next novel!
The Bloomsbury Girls is set in post WWII London which is such an interesting period to me. The world just came out of this massive war and they were still feeling to effects of rationing and economic instability but yet were rapidly bouncing back from a dark period in history. So the 1950s always seem like a very exciting period in modern history which is one of the main reasons this novel really made me pause and take note. Then I saw this book featured books, bookstores, and rare books—I mean come on could this one be calling my name any harder?!
If you love books and historical fiction this is going to be a easy book to pick up and enjoy. I am pleased to report that I liked this one a lot more than The Jane Austen Society, this book really drew me in and reminded me how much I love reading some of these post war era authors like Daphne Du Maurier and why I love reading and bookstores in the first place! This was a wonderful read and I certainly recommend it to book lovers!
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.
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. (summary from Goodreads)
This book features interesting characters, three unique women in fact plus some fun secondary literary characters like Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, and George Orwell’s widow Sonia Blair. It was fun watching the principal characters interact with these other more well known authors, it made my reader heart happy in so many ways! The three main characters will leave readers seeing themselves in many different ways. Normally when I read books with multiple main characters, I find that I connect with one more than the other mostly because I have something in common with them or see something I desire to be in the character. But in this book I felt that way about each and every main character which really made me feel connected to the whole story not just one character’s narrative if that makes sense. That to me is a hallmark of great characters!
While not the total focus of this book, romance certainly played a role and I love books with a little bit of romance and I thought that worked well for this one. There are three different male characters in this book and they are all very different. Overall this book has a wonderful character study across the board with a lot for readers to unpack and analyze. Aside from all the character struggles and stories, I loved seeing how women were treated in the work place. This book really shined a light on the fact that women were clearly NOT welcome in the work world and remember people this wasn’t that long ago! This is one of the reasons why I love historical fiction!
This book was well written and researched and it had the polish that Jenner’s previous book didn’t. I know a lot of people loved her first book but this one for me is her stand out novel. There is a richness in the plot, characters. setting and time period that stands out as superior. I loved exploring the world and the bookstore as well as all the characters. The story also stayed with me until long after it was over. If you love historical fiction you are going to want to check this one out. It’s so well written and I cannot say enough good things. If you liked her first book then you will LOVE this one. It was easily a 4.5 if not a 5 star book for me. I am so excited to see what kind of book she writes next!
Book Info and Rating
Format: 370 pages hardvoer
Publisher: May 17th 2022 by St Martin’s Press
Free review copy provided by publisher, St Martin’s Press in partnership with Austen Prose Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: historical fiction