Book Review: Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

Posted May 16, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 39 Comments

Bloomsbury Girls
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

by Natalie Jenner
Publication Date May 17, 2022
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group
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Genres: Fiction / Friendship, Fiction / Historical / General, Fiction / Women
Pages: 304
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

* Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Katie Couric Media, the CBC, the Globe and Mail, BookBub, POPSUGAR, SheReads, and more!*

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.

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner is a bookish, historical fiction novel about three women and how they navigate the inequalities of men and women in a retail setting.  

Set in London in 1950, this book follows three women who all work at Bloomsbury Books, an old-fashioned bookstore owned and run by men.   Evie Stone has just finished her degree at Cambridge University after being accepted to the first class that accepted women.  She’s very bright, and applied for a research position at the University, but was beat out by a man with much less experience.  Feeling dejected, she calls an old friend who helped her get a job at Bloomsbury books to help catalog their old rare books collection.  

Grace Perkins is married with two sons.  Her husband is difficult and his time in the war made him even more difficult.  Unable to hold down a job, it was up to Grace to find a way to supplement their income.  She works as a clerk for Mr. Dutton, the manager at Bloomsbury Books. 

Vivien Lowry is single after losing her fiance in the war.  She started working at Bloomsbury books at the same time as Alec, the fiction manager.  She has great ideas to improve the store, but, the men in the store are the only ones that have any power to change anything.  

Bloomsbury Girls is a book lover’s dream book.  It’s set in a bookstore, with characters who love books, and features many real-life bookish people of that time. Publishing moguls, famous writers of the day, and society women all came in and out and interacted with the characters in the store.  

I did not read Natalie Jenner’s earlier book, The Jane Austen Society, but there are characters from that book that are also in Bloomsbury Girls, so now I want to go and read The Jane Austen Society!  

Bloomsbury Girls is full of history, drama, and relationships.  These women were all so very different, but all were full of heart and loved books and their jobs.  They were also so relatable, as they were not perfect, but they tried so hard to do the right thing.  I loved the way the women found ways to outsmart the men and make their lives a bit easier. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Natalie Jenner

Natalie Jenner is the author of two books, the instant international bestseller THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY (2020) and the forthcoming BLOOMSBURY GIRLS (2022). A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was named one of the best books of 2020 by Amazon, was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller, and has been sold for translation in twenty-one 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.

39 responses to “Book Review: Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Wendy. I also enjoyed being in a London bookshop with the characters and look forward to Jenner’s next novel. I hope you have a chance soon to read The Jane Austen Society as well.

  2. This sounds really good. After reading Code Girls, I have become interested in the era after WWII and its effects on women and families. Our social structure in the West changed in so many ways.

  3. I was just thinking as I was reading your review that it sounds like such a dream book for anyone who loves books. The 1950s is also a fascinating era for me so I would love to read this one myself!

  4. This sounds just the kind of book I’d enjoy, the setting itself and the issues the women have to face. Lovely review, Wendy🙂Was it ok to read this without having read The Jane Austen Society?

  5. If I’m being perfectly honest, historical fiction is definitely not my typical cup of tea. That being said, I actually really want to read this book! After looking through your review, I’m convinced that I would wind up loving this so much more than some of the other historical fics I’ve tried in the past. Plus, it’s a bookish book, which is always super appealing to me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and persuading me to give it a go!

  6. This does sound like a book lover’s dream book. I’ll have to put this one on my wish list. Excellent review, Wendy!