Sophia Rose is here on tour with Austenprose PR and it’s a title on my audio wishlist. Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner, the bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society. Grab a cuppa and see what she has to say….
by Natalie Jenner
Genres: Historical Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
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.
Sophia Rose’s Review
Bloomsbury Girls follows up on the gently paced and delightful The Jane Austen Society, continuing with the story of one of the main players while introducing an all new cast of characters who are brought together at a 1950s era London bookshop. Anticipating more of the same good thing from Natalie Jenner’s pen, I eased into my comfy chair to fall in love with old books and an old bookshop while rooting on three intrepid women who choose not to be satisfied with the status quo or repressed in a man’s world.
The author painted the hundred-year-old bookshop, and the large cast of characters as well as 1950s London and the literary scene so well that I was wholly immersed in it all. I felt right at home inside the old bookshop and with the people there.
Bloomsbury Girls takes a bit to get going because there are a great many primary characters who need to be introduced along with the background and current situation of the bookshop. The narrator’s perspective shifts among several of the characters. Interesting how the battle of the sexes includes a battle over business ideology when it comes to the store. Because of this, the book comes with a ‘big front porch’ as one of my old writing teachers described the large amount of setup before the plot really gets underway.
It was a full book and had a ponderous pace at times, but I wouldn’t want to miss one person and I could see how many of the scenes had to be there for a reason. I liked how each added to the story and had their place.
The relationship dynamics are a sparkling element. All three women come from different backgrounds, but they share a need to be respected for their skills when, time after time, they are not. I enjoyed seeing them find their way. There are romances, but this is not the focus of the book, though yes, it plays a role.
The book is peopled with a rich, colorful, diverse cast and, of course, it is all things book. The exciting part was Evie’s diligent research into locating the first edition of a very rare book by a woman author with male academics hot on her trail and attempting to steal her recognition once again. Along the way, books contemporary and in the past by women authors are given the spotlight as are real life women involved in literature and the arts at the time. This includes a personal favorite, Daphne du Maurier.
In summary, this slow-build story of a bookshop’s survival, the role three vital women played, and the search for a rare book was a satisfying good read. It will likely not be for everyone with the multiple narrators, deep dive into description and characterization, and gentle, thoughtful tension, but I do heartily recommend it as a solid combo of women’s and historical fiction.
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Laurel Ann Nattress
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sophia. I also enjoyed being in a London bookshop with the three main characters and look forward to Jenner’s next novel.
For sure, Laurel Ann! I wish that bookshop were real and I could visit it and all the people there. 🙂
You know I loved this one Sophia Rose. Thanks for sharing
I sure do. 🙂 It was fun reading your thoughts on it, Debbie.
This sounds amazing as does The Jane Austen Society. I can never resist books set in bookstores and I love that books that make you feel that you are reconnecting with old friends in a familiar place.
Exactly so, Katherine! This is a booklovers book. 🙂
I found this blog very informative, Keep up the good work. Ali Book Store
Thanks for the visit!
I enjoyed this review. I’ve read the book, also and I agree with everything you said! Well done!
Yay, a fellow fan, Wendy! Thanks!
Maureen @ Maureen's Books
I’m not really sure this would be the book for me, but I definitely love the sound of this one. And I’ve been wanting to read The Jane Austen Society.
Great review! I’m happy you enjoyed this one so much.
I second that vote, Maureen. 🙂
Lovely review, Sophia. I can see how much you enjoyed this one.
I sure did, Nadene. I am itching to do a re-read in the audio edition like I did with the first book. 🙂