⦁ Title: Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel
⦁ Author: Natalie Jenner
⦁ Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
⦁ Publisher: St. Martin's Press (May 17, 2022)
⦁ Length: (368) pages
⦁ Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook
⦁ ISBN: 978-1250276698
⦁ Tour Dates: May 2-29, 2022
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.
The female employees of the long standing and prominent Bloomsbury Books of London have long been underestimated. Kept in check by the proprietor's long list of rules and kept busy by the different male department heads, Grace, Vivien and new employee, Evie have worked not so silently in the background. Grace took the job at Bloomsbury books to escape her husband's failing mental health after the war. Vivien's fiancé was killed during the war, and she is looking to move on and also publish her own works. Evie is on her own rare book finding mission after graduating from Cambridge. When the women team up to bring in a female author for an event, they realize their strength together and when Evie finally tracks down the rare book she's been chasing, they discover they have leverage to create their own path.
Bloomsbury Girls is set in 1950 London, a time where women who realized their independence and worth during World War II are now being regulated to back to their original roles by the returning men. The writing brought me into the world of Bloomsbury Books, and I could imagine the shop and each department fully. The women of Bloomsbury Books caught my attention from the beginning with their spunk and tenacity. Evie's single-minded quest for finding a rare book by a young female author is extraordinary. I enjoyed watching Evie grow, branch out in the world, find connections with others and become a mastermind planner for using the book as a steppingstone to improve her life. I loved Vivian's small acts of defiance and her friendships that she found with Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair, and Peggy Guggenheim. It was wonderful to see these strong women prospering. Grace is fighting more of a personal battle at home, Bloomsbury Books gave her the strength to get out of an abusive situation. I loved that a book was able to bring Grace, Vivien and Evie together and aid them in finding a path to independence and creating equal footing in a man's world. Bloomsbury Girls is a heartfelt, exciting and character driven historical fiction read.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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Dear readers, I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of affection that so many of you have expressed for my debut novel The Jane Austen Society and its eight main characters. When I wrote its epilogue (in one go and without ever changing a word), I wanted to give each of Adam, Mimi, Dr. Gray, Adeline, Yardley, Frances, Evie and Andrew the happy Austenesque ending they each deserved. But I could not let go of servant girl Evie Stone, the youngest and only character inspired by real life (my mother, who had to leave school at age fourteen, and my daughter, who does eighteenth-century research for a university professor and his team). Bloomsbury Girls continues Evie’s adventures into a 1950s London bookshop where there is a battle of the sexes raging between the male managers and the female staff, who decide to pull together their smarts, connections, and limited resources to take over the shop and make it their own. There are dozens of new characters in Bloomsbury Girls from several different countries, and audiobook narration was going to require a female voice of the highest training and caliber. When I learned that British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, CBE, had agreed to narrate, I knew that my story could not be in better hands, and I so hope you enjoy reading or listening to it. Warmest regards, Natalie
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.
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