Review By Kayleigh

This is the perfect, empowering, strong female relationship story that I know I will return to time and time again.

Favourite Quote:

“The former servant girl and the portly general manager shared a strange congruence, in addition to their compulsive natures and strong sense of duty. Mr. Dutton’s entire life was on display within the four small walls of his office; Evvie was known for saving her affections in life for dead authors and relationships that were socially constrained. She had adored her schoolteacher Adeline Gray and former employer Frances Knight. Even Kinross she had trusted, it turned out, to a fault. 

As Evie sat there, she could feel herself already warming up to the sickly older man sitting pale and worn at his desk, trying so valiantly to continue with his work in exactly the way that she would have done.”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

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.

I loved the Jane Austen Society when it came out, and I was so happy to see some familiar faces in Bloomsbury Girls. You don’t have to read it first to enjoy Bloomsbury, but I highly recommend it. 

This is a book about relationships – female relationships specifically. It’s so lovely to see Evie again and watch as this cast of characters deals with life in post war London, England. Jenner calls this her MAD MEN meets YOU’VE GOT MAIL book and I totally agree. The book dives into such an interesting look at the friction between men and women and working that occurred after World War 2. 

Set in 1950, the book dives into the lives of three main female characters and the drama that ensues in a historic bookshop (Bloomsbury) where a staff of men who prefer women in more traditional roles (eye roll). Throughout the book we watch Evie, Viven and Grace grow and find their way in life – even though they are all at very different places in their lives. They are knockout characters and I would love to spend an evening with them.

This is a book for booklovers – between the bookstore and all of the literary characters who pop up between the pages; I just wanted to crawl in and escape life for a while. I could almost smell the store through the screen of my e-reader. One of the things I’ve missed most about travelling during the pandemic has been finding new bookstores. When I travel to new cities or countries I always make it a point to find a book store – and a used or rare store is even better. I can think of nothing better than to spend an afternoon surrounded by rare and old books and people who love them. 

This book scratched my historical fiction book itch. I loved seeing Evie again from The Jane Austen Society but also loved Jenner’s exploration of women and their roles in the world. I especially enjoyed seeing some historical literary superstars pop up on the page. This is a book lovers book and the perfect way to hide away from today’s world for a few hours. 

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press for the ARC in return for an honest review.