Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Blog Tour and Book Review: Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

Pages: 370
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: May 17, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Jane Austen Society
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars  

Goodreads says, "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."


Evie Stone has recently been passed over for a job she is most definitely qualified for as a recent Cambridge graduate and is starting to learn that in 1950, it's a man's world.  Instead she gets a job at Bloomsbury Books and intends to re-calibrate her life.  However, the boys club follows her even to the bookstore.  Also working at the shop is Vivien Leigh, an outgoing and talented writer, who has recently been widowed.  She has issues with Alec, her boss, who treats the women that work at the shop unfairly.  There's a list of rules that one must adhere to when working at Bloomsbury Books and the rules don't lend themselves to women's advancement.  Lastly, Grace also works at the shop to support her family as her husband is suffering from PTSD after the war and they have two sons. Things aren't easy for Grace though and her marriage is falling apart.  There's a whole cast of secondary characters at Bloomsbury Books. There's Ash, an Indian immigrant, who deals with prejudice on a daily basis. There's also the shop manager who is dealing with health issues, and Lord Baskin, the landlord.  There's always something going on at the bookshop with all these interesting people working there and especially once there's store events involving authors.  If you have ever dreamed of working in a bookshop, Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner is the perfect escape.

Jenner, just as she did in The Jane Austen Society , provides readers with heartwarming characters in Vivien and Grace. You can't help but root for them.  Fans of Jenner's The Jane Austen Society will also recognize Evie.  I really liked all three of these women from the start.  Each woman has their own issues to deal with, but they are determined to rise above them.  Evie is trying to get ahead despite being held back just because she is a woman.  Vivian's wealthy husband died during WWII, so she is trying to find her next step and figure out what she wants.  Grace's story was especially heartbreaking in that her husband doesn't appreciate her and is very controlling. She struggles with the idea of leaving him though, because she has two young sons.  All women are dealt difficult hands, but they make plans to come out on top despite the men that hold them back.

I love the setting of a bookstore. Bloomsbury Girls fulfills my fantasy of opening a book store and planning author events, etc.  Even though many of the "rules" at the bookstore were antiquated, I still enjoyed the behind the scenes feel of running a book store.  In fact, Jenner starts each chapter with one of the ridiculous "rules" and inevitably that particular rule is tested within the chapter. These rules are designed for men to get ahead, so it was a nice touch to start the chapter in that way and set the tone.

While I enjoyed The Jane Austen Society a little bit more than that novel, I still really appreciated its take on literary feminism.  How frustrating to work in publishing and bookselling and have men hold such ridiculous rules over women's heads! I loved how Vivien and the women challenged the men and hosted events with female authors like Daphne du Maurier.  Also, I appreciated all the literary figures in Bloomsbury Girls and learning more about lesser known authors from the time period, such as Jane Webb.  I also enjoyed learning more about the time period after the war and how it impacted women once men returned from the front.  It's a time of transition and I think Jenner captured post-war London well.

If you like at heartwarming historical read, check out Bloomsbury Girls this summer, especially if you are a fan of The Jane Austen Society.  So, are you a fan of Jenner's novels? Is this one on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments below. 



  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christina. I enjoyed being in a London bookshop with the characters and the amazing literary connections. I am looking forward to Jenner's next novel as well.

    1. Me too, Laurel! I look forward to her next novel as well.

  2. A bookstore is always a fantastic setting - I'd love to own my own bookstore!

    1. Me too! My dream for sure. Thanks for visiting, Angela.


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