Saturday, May 21, 2022

Review: "Bloomsbury Girls" by Natalie Jenner

I remember all of the hype surrounding The Jane Austen Society, and I truly intended to read it but never did. But now that I've read Natalie Jenner's next novel, Bloomsbury Girls, I think I'm going to need to remedy that! 

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 bookstore 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 fiancé 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.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: ‎St. Martin's Press (May 17, 2022)

Set in 1950, Bloomsbury Girls is the story of a bookshop in London - Bloomsbury Books - and the people who work there. While the novel focuses on the shop's three female employees, Evie, Grace, and Vivien, from time to time the reader glimpses the story from a male employee's point of view.

Bloomsbury Books is managed by Mr. Dutton, an old-fashioned man (though not without his scandalous secrets) who set a list of rules to be followed at all times. Each of the short chapters in the novel is headed by one of those rules, and I loved seeing how the rules fit into the larger story.

Relationships, both good and bad, are the focus of the novel. Some long-standing and fraught with misunderstanding, others new and tentative - all have a profound impact on the characters. Each woman also gets a taste of romance, and I found Evie's and Grace's love stories to be so sweet.

Also, a quick mention of the audiobook - I went back and forth between the audio version and the ebook, and I found the narration to be delightful...and also too slow, even when I sped it up! Simply put, I can read a book much faster than I can listen to one, but if you are a fan of audio, you'll enjoy this.

Finally, I have to point out that there is a character list at the beginning, which always helps me immensely when I'm beginning a new book. (And the way Vivien is referenced made me chuckle.) 4 stars.

Content note: Some sensitive themes, including sexual affairs, abuse, racism, and same-sex relationships, are included, though nothing is ever graphic in any way.

Watch the book trailer.

Sample the audiobook.

Buy the book:


Natalie Jenner
is the author of the instant international bestseller
The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for 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 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. Visit her website to learn more.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely review. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Becky. I also enjoyed being in a London bookshop with the three main characters. I am looking forward to Jenner's next novel as well.


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