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Bloomsbury Girls

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for Bloomsbury Girls

  1. 4 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner It's 1950 London and Bloomsbury Books has been in business for a hundred years. The general manager has 51 unbreakable rules and every employee is able to name each rule and identify when anyone is breaking them. The men are "in charge" at the store but the real movers and shakers are the three women, making things happen, or at least making their unhappiness known, with their unique silent communications to each other, to the vexation of the men. Yes, the men k Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner It's 1950 London and Bloomsbury Books has been in business for a hundred years. The general manager has 51 unbreakable rules and every employee is able to name each rule and identify when anyone is breaking them. The men are "in charge" at the store but the real movers and shakers are the three women, making things happen, or at least making their unhappiness known, with their unique silent communications to each other, to the vexation of the men. Yes, the men know the woman are pulling the wool over their eyes everyday, they know that even though they are the decision makers, they may not be as in charge as they'd like to think. Vivien wears her list of grievance like a badge of honor and I think the men of the store are scared of her. No way they can escape her sarcastic wit and critique but she is so very good at what she does and she is determined to make changes at the store, one way or another. Grace is a mother of two, in a miserable marriage, who loves her career but is worn out with all the work she does both at home and the store, always feeling guilty about leaving her family to go to work each day, even though she's the bread winner in the household. Young Evie, who was in the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, has her hopes dashed when a less qualified man gets the academic job for which she was better qualified. These smart, resourceful women have to bow down to men because a woman's place is to do all the grunt work, make the tea, keep quiet and helpful, never getting recognition for the fact that they are really the heart of making the store run. Three men feature in this story, too, Alec, who can't keep his mind off Vivien, even if he feels she will be the ruin of him, Lord Baskin, the gentle, hands off owner of the store, who has been hanging around the place more than he did in the past, and Ash, from India, who knows a different kind of discrimination than the women, that he must endure on a daily basis. There are other men at this store, all powerful and dismissive of the women and their work. Little do they know that they are creating a storm like they have never seen before. You do not need to read the author's previous book to enjoy this one, even though this is a continuation of the earlier story. This book starts slowly but once Evie get a job at Bloomsbury Books, I was swept up with the politics and in fighting among all the players. And then we begin spending time with real life people from the writing and publishing world of that time, both men and women. I've become familiar with the backgrounds of these people from other books I've read and I enjoyed seeing Vivien, Grace, Evie, and the men intermingling with these legends. I'm hoping the author has more in store for us because I can't wait for another book that contains some of the fictional characters in this world. Publication: May 17th 2022 Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Jenner

    Hi everyone, It feels like a long time until my second book BLOOMSBURY GIRLS is released next spring on May 17, 2022, so I thought I'd post a little synopsis here for anyone who might trip across it. BLOOMSBURY GIRLS is about three women (including Evie Stone from my first novel THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY) working in a London bookshop in 1950 and engaged in an ongoing battle of the sexes with the male department heads. I call it MAD MEN meets YOU'VE GOT MAIL! If THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was my valenti Hi everyone, It feels like a long time until my second book BLOOMSBURY GIRLS is released next spring on May 17, 2022, so I thought I'd post a little synopsis here for anyone who might trip across it. BLOOMSBURY GIRLS is about three women (including Evie Stone from my first novel THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY) working in a London bookshop in 1950 and engaged in an ongoing battle of the sexes with the male department heads. I call it MAD MEN meets YOU'VE GOT MAIL! If THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was my valentine to Austen, my second book is my tribute--as a former bookshop owner myself--to the magic of bookstores and the way they bring together people from so many different walks of life. For those of you who enjoyed the multiple characters and storylines of my debut novel, BLOOMSBURY GIRLS promises much of that same canvas, along with themes around agency, new beginnings, class and gender conflict, prejudice, the art and craft of writing and, of course, workplace romance. There are cameo appearances by a few of the characters from THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, as well by some of the famous literary and society figures of the time. There is also another literary treasure hunt going on, spearheaded of course by young Evie Stone. I never intended for Evie to be a major character in my debut novel, let alone inspire a second one. But as time went on, I found I could not leave her behind in Chawton with the other society members. And then one day I rewatched a favourite movie, 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD, and I remember thinking, there's a whole other story in here still to be told, of an upstairs-downstairs motley crew of booksellers, and right away the figures came to life. In addition to Evie, there's the vivacious but temperamental female bookseller who wants the opportunities so easily granted her male counterpart, the socially aspiring and attractive male counterpart whose heart is much softer than his head, the fastidious general manager whose entire life is contained within the four floors of the shop, the recent Indian immigrant and scientist who has had to settle for a position there, the general manager's secretary who is an unhappily married working mother, the wealthy earl whose family has owned the shop for 100 years, the footloose and fancy free manager of the rare books department (where Evie will get the run of the place in his absence), and many more. I am madly in love with them all, and miss them already - hence this post. I look forward to sharing their stories with you as we get closer to publication. If you have read this far, you are especially in my favour. Readers like you are why I have had the opportunity to bring another book into the world, and I remain more grateful than you can ever know. Stay safe and well, Natalie

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Spencer

    This book jumped into my life exactly when I needed it. The comfort and enjoyment I got from it during a difficult and stressful time was so appreciated. Bloomsbury Girls follows three women, working at a bookshop but wanting to make a life for themselves in a vastly changing world. Held back by the men in their life, can they break the barriers and achieve their dreams? I have read many fiction novels based in the war, I really like that this one was based just after (in 1950). It added the persp This book jumped into my life exactly when I needed it. The comfort and enjoyment I got from it during a difficult and stressful time was so appreciated. Bloomsbury Girls follows three women, working at a bookshop but wanting to make a life for themselves in a vastly changing world. Held back by the men in their life, can they break the barriers and achieve their dreams? I have read many fiction novels based in the war, I really like that this one was based just after (in 1950). It added the perspective of the world trying to build itself back up again. I often find myself raving about strong female characters in books. Not only did I get 3 incredible and strong main female characters, but there was a whole host of female side characters for me to fall in love with too. I loved the inclusion of real famous female literary greats, such as Daphne du Maurier, and was so excited to find out that some of these events did actually happen! This is a slow burn historical fiction and was so utterly charming. I loved that it tackled some real issues that were faced by groups in the past. It added an extra depth to the novel. I found myself becoming enveloped in the bookshop, which I’m sure is the dream of many bookworms. I had the biggest smile on my face as I read the last few chapters. Everything was wrapped up so nicely which I always love! I found that I didn’t need to read the Jane Austen Society to thoroughly enjoy this book but I will definitely be going back to read it now! I cannot wait to see what this author does next! I recommend this book to fans of slow-burn historical fiction with strong female characters! I want to thank Tandem Collective, Allison & Busby publishers and Natalie Jenner for allowing me to read this book and give my personal thoughts.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I was a fan of The Jane Austen Society, so I would have read whatever Jenner wrote next. Once again, she has written a lovely cozy story. This book details the challenges women faced in the mid1950s finding worthwhile, well paying jobs. Sexism is ingrained in society and the only women who escaped it were those with their own money. We meet three women - Evie Stone, one of the first female graduates from Cambridge, Grace Perkins, a wife, mother and main financial support of her family and Vivian I was a fan of The Jane Austen Society, so I would have read whatever Jenner wrote next. Once again, she has written a lovely cozy story. This book details the challenges women faced in the mid1950s finding worthwhile, well paying jobs. Sexism is ingrained in society and the only women who escaped it were those with their own money. We meet three women - Evie Stone, one of the first female graduates from Cambridge, Grace Perkins, a wife, mother and main financial support of her family and Vivian Lowery, who lost her fiancé during the war. They come together at Bloomsbury Books, a new and rare bookstore. The store is led by Mr. Dutton, an older man who resists any attempt to modernize the place. Jenner’s strength is her ability to create realistic, engaging characters. I wanted to see these women succeed and pull one over on the men who discounted their abilities. To be clear, I view this as women's fiction that takes place in a prior period rather than historical fiction. I expect historical fiction to teach me something about the time. This is a well done character driven story, but it taught me nothing new about the time even though it included actual writers of the 50s. And once again, someone has seen fit to use “girls” in the title to describe adult women. Argh! I loved the device of starting each chapter with one of Mr. Dutton’s 51 rules for the shop. And following up with the chapter’s drive being based on that rule. The book moves along at a nice steady clip with no down time. I found it interesting that the author’s inspiration came from watching 84 Charing Cross. It’s always fascinating where an author draws their inspiration from. Jenner was also an independent bookstore owner. Juliet Stevenson did not impress as the narrator. While she has a lovely voice, her attempts to portray the characters fell short for me, especially Vivian. My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    ©hrissie ❁ [on studying hiatus till June]

    Jenner – I am happy to report! – has delivered once more! Everything – and more – that the Ideal Reader of The Jane Austen Society found positively compelling about Jenner’s writing returns, with renewed vigour, in Bloomsbury Girls. And yet do not go thinking that this is merely a reworking of that brilliant debut – far, far from it. As far from it as it is to suppose that this would be a sequel of sorts, which is not the case – though I would venture to say that it is indeed exceptionally excit Jenner – I am happy to report! – has delivered once more! Everything – and more – that the Ideal Reader of The Jane Austen Society found positively compelling about Jenner’s writing returns, with renewed vigour, in Bloomsbury Girls. And yet do not go thinking that this is merely a reworking of that brilliant debut – far, far from it. As far from it as it is to suppose that this would be a sequel of sorts, which is not the case – though I would venture to say that it is indeed exceptionally exciting to have our dear Evie Stone, the precocious scholar and cataloguing extraordinaire, not only back, but also occupying more centre stage in this novel! STORYLINE: It is 1949, in Lamb’s Conduit Street, London. Under the prevalently male and conservative management of Herbert Dutton, backed up by Alec McDonough (Head of Fiction), the Bloomsbury Bookshop is stuck-in-the-past, in more ways than one: the much hoped for post-war economical resurgence is not doing much for the bookshop to be able to stay afloat, and they themselves seem not to even ponder the idea of moving away from their traditional precepts, hardly ever heeding the women’s – Vivien Lowry’s in particular – solicitous attempts to introduce some of the emerging contemporary female writers to their shelves, or organise events that would also allow the female public to engage. No: at Bloomsbury Books it is all about the fifty-one rules established by Mr Dutton. And yet strictures and rules, as Evie Stone will have to learn the hard way, are not necessarily without contradiction, and can in fact cause more damage than one would expect… Evie herself ends up working in the Rare Books section seemingly because – as a woman who works hard, is still fairly naïve about the ways of the world, and unwilling to compromise her values – is duped by her Cambridge studying colleague Stuart Wesley, and highly undervalued by the Vice-Master, Christenson. She is thus unable to stay on as Research assistant, but an extraordinary discovery awaits her at Bloomsbury Books: a book, acquired by Mr Allen (from the Rare Books department) at the Chawton House auction organised by Yardley Sinclair in The Jane Austen Society – a book, that will change everything. COMMENTS: The driving force of the novel, I would say, would be a motto of sorts: it is only when strong, independent-minded females unite that the combined force of their energy and determination makes remarkable things happen. Clearly, at the time, it was very much going against the grain for a female to even consider the idea of asserting herself and standing up for what she believes in. Indeed, all female characters at Bloomsbury – Evie, Vivien, and Grace – suffer from unfulfilled potential. They are (quietly) bold – with Vivien being the more overtly so, having endured a terrible loss that accentuates her outwardly hardcore façade – and immeasurably capable in their own distinct ways. And yet they hit walls at every turn, stifled as they are by the oppressive world they are made to live in. This is their story. The story of struggling minorities – those relegated to minority roles. Not only females and female artists, but also immigrants like Ash Ramaswamy, who has to live with being discriminated against on a daily basis, and is not – for this reason – taken seriously or allowed to become and do what he has worked for so indefatigably. And, moreover, homosexuals like Dutton and Allen, who are forced to confine their companionship within the privacy of their home. It must be said that the ‘historical’ in this fiction is not very substantial: avid readers of historical fiction might in fact do well not to go into this expecting too much of that. Jenner takes on a very minimalist approach in this sense. Apart from the history of the bookshop itself, the socio-political contexts of the years following World War II are more often than not traced through the conditionings that the characters themselves are subjected to. The historical, in many respects, is at the service of the feminist, literary contexts that frame the narrative. Many a thrilling moment awaits lovers of literature, between literary luncheons and the skilful insertion of characters like Daphne du Maurier, Sonia Blair (wife of George Orwell), and Samuel Beckett – all of whom are actually invested in the unfolding of events! ❤️ The characters are not few, and yet they are drawn solidly enough. I do feel that Jenner endeavours to develop characters that stand in their own right – and it is actually quite impressive that she does manage to do so, while also flitting from one perspective to another, and not jeopardising the cohesion of the narrative itself. It is obviously no wonder that the reader should be affectionately attached to the prodigious Evie Stone, but Jenner will not leave any character behind: she gives us enough substance to be able to relate to or capture what it is that makes each character distinctly human. In Jenner, even the more elite – think Lord Baskin, the owner of Bloomsbury Books – are presented very humanly. On a structural level, I was quite taken by the fact that every chapter started off with references to one of Dutton’s rules, by way – it seems – of subtly revealing their limitedness, and thereby slowly and assiduously fracturing their seemingly impenetrable surface. This tallies quite strikingly with the movement of the narration, I feel. The Austen-Jenner style ending is not overdone or longwinded, thankfully. There is some build up to the tying up of loose ends that happens here, but it is made to blend with the overarching sentiment of the narration: not quite sentimental, but, rather, more attuned to a natural and humble coming together of people who find themselves – unlikely though it might seem, given their differences – connecting on a deeper level. Jenner certainly has a faithful reader in me. The way she does bookishness and literary history is far more sophisticated than your average book-lover read. Which puts her Up There for those who – like me – do thoroughly enjoy a light yet intense, pleasurable, and unputdownable read from time to time. 4.25 stars. Thanks again to Net Galley and publisher for giving me this lovely opportunity to read and review this book. All thoughts expressed here are my own. --------------------------- YES YES YES! ❤️ Thanks SO MUCH to Net Galley and publisher for the opportunity to read this book in advance. THIS LITERALLY MADE MY FRI-DAY (CAN'T WAIT!)! Out-of-my-mind EXCITED! 🤩

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kerrin

    ***Now Available*** Bloomsbury Girls is the follow-up to Natalie Jenner’s 2020 novel, The Jane Austen Society. This book reads as a stand-alone and it is not necessary to read the first one. Jenner states in the author’s notes that she was inspired by three things: the movie 84 Charing Cross Road, a blog about female literary friendship, and an article about Sunwise Turn, one of the first bookstores in America to be owned and operated by women. These influences shine through the story. The setting ***Now Available*** Bloomsbury Girls is the follow-up to Natalie Jenner’s 2020 novel, The Jane Austen Society. This book reads as a stand-alone and it is not necessary to read the first one. Jenner states in the author’s notes that she was inspired by three things: the movie 84 Charing Cross Road, a blog about female literary friendship, and an article about Sunwise Turn, one of the first bookstores in America to be owned and operated by women. These influences shine through the story. The setting is a 100-year-old bookstore in London that is owned by the wealthy, good-natured, and recently divorced Jeremy Baskin, the 11th Earl Baskin. It is managed by a very old-fashioned Herbert Dutton, who has a list of 51 rules the employees must abide by. The novel primarily focuses on the three female employees, all of whom work there for different reasons. The beautiful Vivien Lowry is an aspiring writer and resentful over the inequality at work. She has an unhealthy competition with a male coworker, Alec McDonough; Evelyn Stone, who feels trapped by the male-dominated educational system that forced her out of Cambridge; and Grace Perkins who is in an unhappy marriage and must work to support her family. There are also chapters that deal with the males and their relationships with the women and each other, so the book isn’t entirely about the Bloomsbury Girls. While I enjoyed this charming story, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others for three reasons. I have recently read two other books (Lessons in Chemistry and The Book Woman's Daughter) about 1950s women who suffered workplace inequality. I am now officially tired of this theme. Secondly, as my Goodreads friend, Louise, pointed out, the title designated the women as “girls”. Since this is a book about equality, the word “girls” seems particularly demeaning. Finally, The author chooses to use real-life people including Peggy Guggenheim, Ellen Doubleday, Daphne Du Maurier (Lady Browning), and Sonia Brownwell (George Orwell’s wife). I found this plot device to be slightly unbelievable and unnecessary. 3-stars. Thank you to #Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for my advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Evelyn Stone is a graduating member of the first class of women admitted to Cambridge University, when she’s overlooked for a job as a research assistant and the position is given to a male colleague. Evie needs to work, she has a glowing reference from her friend Mr. Yardley Sinclair, he holds a prominent position at Sotheby’s auction house, she approaches Bloomsbury Books, she wants to work in the rare book section and she has an ulterior motif. Situated at 40 Lambs Conduit Street in London, B Evelyn Stone is a graduating member of the first class of women admitted to Cambridge University, when she’s overlooked for a job as a research assistant and the position is given to a male colleague. Evie needs to work, she has a glowing reference from her friend Mr. Yardley Sinclair, he holds a prominent position at Sotheby’s auction house, she approaches Bloomsbury Books, she wants to work in the rare book section and she has an ulterior motif. Situated at 40 Lambs Conduit Street in London, Bloomsbury Books is owned by Lord Jeremy Baskin and it’s been in business for almost a hundred years. It’s managed by Mr. Herbert Dutton, he enforces the fifty one workplace rules and he’s very set in his old fashioned ways! This frustrates Miss. Vivien Lowdry and Mrs. Grace Perkins, both women work at the bookshop, Vivien is a cashier and Grace is a secretary. In the early 1950's, England is coming out of the war years, people have extra money to spend and Bloomsbury’s aren’t taking advantage of this. Both women have ideas of how to improve the shop’s takings, by stocking and displaying a different range of books, holding events and promoting female authors. When Mr. Dutton falls ill, Evie, Grace and Vivien manage to convince the temporary manager to try some of their ideas, then everything reverts to how it was and they have to come up with another plan! A story about discovering forgotten, ignored and missed female authors and their books. Evie, Grace and Vivien band together and outsmart the men and with a cast of famous women backing them all the way. I received a copy of Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner from NetGalley and Allison & Busby in exchange for an honest review. I loved how the author included characters from her previous book The Jane Austen Society, a perfect story for those who have an interest in drama, bookshops, reading and women in powering other women in following their dreams, finding their voice and gaining financial independence and five stars from me. https://www.facebook.com/KarrenReadsH.... https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Our three Bloomsbury Books women show the men how it is done. Their manager, Mr. Dutton, has set out 51 rules to maintain peace and tranquility. Vivien, Grace, and Evie operate within that framework while dreaming of a future that contains more opportunity. Jenner cleverly frames each chapter with a rule showing the men of the shop often running roughshod and getting away with it. Our story begins with a medical emergency that shakes up the shop politics and they will never be the same. There is Our three Bloomsbury Books women show the men how it is done. Their manager, Mr. Dutton, has set out 51 rules to maintain peace and tranquility. Vivien, Grace, and Evie operate within that framework while dreaming of a future that contains more opportunity. Jenner cleverly frames each chapter with a rule showing the men of the shop often running roughshod and getting away with it. Our story begins with a medical emergency that shakes up the shop politics and they will never be the same. There is quite a bit of crossover with Jenner's previous work -- The Jane Austen Society. I especially enjoyed seeing Evie flourish in her gifts at cataloging and discovery. Famous figures make cameo appearances as noted in the book summary above. My favorite was Daphne du Maurier and her evening event at the shop. There are many themes explored (women's rights, marriage health, motherhood, war trauma, plagiarism, racial discrimination, and more) making this an ideal book group pick. Kudos to Juliet Stevenson for her narration of the audiobook transporting me to 1950's London with ease. I could see and smell the shop and the cherry blossoms. Thank you to Macmillan Audio and NetGalley for an audio ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN* (on hiatus)

    3.5 Stars I'm not much of a fiction reader but the locale of the book (1950s England in a bookshop) made me take the plunge. I was mildly entertained by the story enough to finish the book, albeit with some occasional skimming. The bookshop was the classic kind you would imagine - think of the classic book and movie 84 Charing Cross Road - where you can purchase first edition rare books - which in fact inspired the author to write this. The three ladies who work in the shop are expected to make t 3.5 Stars I'm not much of a fiction reader but the locale of the book (1950s England in a bookshop) made me take the plunge. I was mildly entertained by the story enough to finish the book, albeit with some occasional skimming. The bookshop was the classic kind you would imagine - think of the classic book and movie 84 Charing Cross Road - where you can purchase first edition rare books - which in fact inspired the author to write this. The three ladies who work in the shop are expected to make the tea and don't get paid as much as the men. They also don't get opportunities for advancement like the men. Working in the shop are also a gay couple and a man from India who experiences racism in London. One girl is on a mission to find a rare book, another is escaping a troubled marriage, and another wants to be a writer. I feel rather sheepish because it seems that most other people enjoyed the book a lot more than I did...so I am an outlier. I didn't connect with the characters on an emotional level, and perhaps that's why it just didn't resonate with me. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Set in a small bookshop in Bloomsbury, this is the tale of three young women (women not ‘girls’ as per the title) and their male colleagues. It continues to follow the fate of Evie Stone, who we first met as a precocious and industrious house maid and founding member of The Jane Austen Society. It’s now the 1950s and Evie has graduated with first class honours from Girton College, in the first class of women admitted to degrees at Cambridge. She had hoped for a job in academia, but is overlooked Set in a small bookshop in Bloomsbury, this is the tale of three young women (women not ‘girls’ as per the title) and their male colleagues. It continues to follow the fate of Evie Stone, who we first met as a precocious and industrious house maid and founding member of The Jane Austen Society. It’s now the 1950s and Evie has graduated with first class honours from Girton College, in the first class of women admitted to degrees at Cambridge. She had hoped for a job in academia, but is overlooked for a research assistant’s position in favour of her less talented male colleague, so with no other source of funds she is forced to look for alternative work. With a referral from the director of museum services at Sotheby’s, her degree and experience in cataloguing libraries, she approaches Bloomsbury Books for a position in their Rare Book section. Bloomsbury Books in Lambs Conduit, London is about to celebrate a century of selling new and rare books. Owned by Lord Baskin, it is managed by the conservative Herbert Dutton, who likes to keep women in traditional roles and has a list of 51 rules for employees. The various sections within the shop are managed by men with the women relegated to secretarial duties, making the tea (four times per day at exact times) and working at the cashier’s desk despite their obvious capabilities. Grace, unhappily married with two small children and Vivien, whose aristocratic fiancé was killed during the war, have plenty ideas of how the shop could be more profitable but since the male managers won’t listen to them, they just have to grit their teeth and carry on. However, when Herbert Dutton becomes ill and Vivien is made temporary manager of fiction wheels are set in motion, which will bring about change to Bloomsbury Books, with the help of Evie Stone and several influential women working together. In many ways this is a feminist novel, showing the power women can have when working together for a common goal, but although there are some notable (and well known) female characters, it is not just a novel about women and the way they were treated in the 1950s. The men in the novel, including a young man from India, are also required to re-assess themselves and what they most want from life. A very enjoyable read, recommeneded especially for those who enjoy books about books and bookshops. With thanks to Allison & Busby via Netgalley for a copy to read

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joan Happel

    Bloomsbury Girls is a wonderful follow up to Jenner's The Jane Austen Society. It is 1950 and Evie Stone has graduated from Cambridge. Evie soon finds that despite her intelligence and degree, the male dominated world of academia is closed to her. She travels to London and finds a job cataloging books in a bookshop. Here too, male employees virtually ignore Evie and her two other female co-workers. Evie however has an ulterior motive for working at the Bloomsbury bookshop; she is on the hunt for Bloomsbury Girls is a wonderful follow up to Jenner's The Jane Austen Society. It is 1950 and Evie Stone has graduated from Cambridge. Evie soon finds that despite her intelligence and degree, the male dominated world of academia is closed to her. She travels to London and finds a job cataloging books in a bookshop. Here too, male employees virtually ignore Evie and her two other female co-workers. Evie however has an ulterior motive for working at the Bloomsbury bookshop; she is on the hunt for a rare book written by a female naturalist that she believes in hidden somewhere in the stacks. The other female employees have their own troubles. Vivien Lowry, who lost her fiancé in the war, has dreams of being a writer. She also has ideas to save the failing bookstore, but Vivien is thwarted by her boss Alec McDonough. Meanwhile, Grace Perkins who is the secretary to the manager, is working to support her two sons as well as avoiding the increasingly erratic behavior of her husband. The three women eventually pair up in an attempt to rescue the bookstore, as well as bettering each other’s lives. While this novel builds on many of the characters introduced in The Jane Austen Society, it works as an engaging and complex standalone read. The strong female characters defy the obstacles thrown at them by their male counterparts as well as society itself. Besides the main characters, the bookstore itself becomes a backdrop to many literary figures of the time. Cameos abound with the likes of Daphne Du Maurier, Samuel Beckett, and George Orwell's widow Sonia Blair. Besides the themes of feminism and patriarchy, Jenner touches on racism and homophobia with her introduction of the minor characters. In the end this is a charming and uplifting read which I could not put down. I fell in love with these three women and rooted for them until the end. Thank you to St. Martins Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC.

  12. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4.25 bookshop stars - now available Natalie Jenner is now on my “must read” author lists! I really liked her first book, so I was eager to read “Bloomsbury Girls” which has a few characters that appear in both books. This time we are in post-war London, which can still be a depressing place. Most of the action takes place at a bookstore (Bloomsbury Books) with three strong female characters. Of course, none of the women are top leadership at the bookstore, but they make everything work behind the 4.25 bookshop stars - now available Natalie Jenner is now on my “must read” author lists! I really liked her first book, so I was eager to read “Bloomsbury Girls” which has a few characters that appear in both books. This time we are in post-war London, which can still be a depressing place. Most of the action takes place at a bookstore (Bloomsbury Books) with three strong female characters. Of course, none of the women are top leadership at the bookstore, but they make everything work behind the scenes. First up is Vivien, she’s a bright and beautiful young woman. Her wealthy fiancée died in the war before they could marry. She has a strong personality, and she often clashes with another employee, Alec. Grace is a devoted mother and is the main supporter for her family since her husband is suffering from effects of serving in the war. She assists the manager, who has countless rules for running the bookstore. And then we have Evie, she was in the last book where she worked hard to preserve Jane Austen’s home and she cataloged the huge library. She studied at Cambridge, but things didn’t work out for a research position for her post-Cambridge. Now she’s working at the bookshop cataloging the rare books. This one started a little slowly, but I was drawn into the politics of working at the shop as well as the romantic pairings. It was also great to have real names pulled into the story – one of my all-time favorite authors, Daphne Du Maurier for example. There are also cameos for Ellen Doubleday, Samuel Beckett, and Peggy Guggenheim. It was inspiring to see the women take charge to upend the traditional male-dominated leadership at the bookshop. I had a smile on my face as I finished this book and I hope we see many of these characters in the next book from Natalie Jenner. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for the copy of this one to read and honestly review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    3.5 Stars Set in the years following World War II, this is a follow-up to Jenner’s debut novel, The Jane Austen Society which largely follows Evelyn, Evie Stone. Evie, former ’servant girl’ at the Chawton Great House. Evie has now completed her education, being one of the first females to graduate from Cambridge, has her hopes for her future career dashed when she is denied the professional career she’s been hoping to pursue. As this begins, Christmas is nearing, and the 1940’s will soon be a thi 3.5 Stars Set in the years following World War II, this is a follow-up to Jenner’s debut novel, The Jane Austen Society which largely follows Evelyn, Evie Stone. Evie, former ’servant girl’ at the Chawton Great House. Evie has now completed her education, being one of the first females to graduate from Cambridge, has her hopes for her future career dashed when she is denied the professional career she’s been hoping to pursue. As this begins, Christmas is nearing, and the 1940’s will soon be a thing of the past. Fortunately, she has contacts, those she’s made as a member of the Jane Austen Society over the years. Through those contacts, she is able to find employment at Bloomsbury Books, a book shop with a set of rules meant to prevent the ‘fairer sex employed there from ever attaining a level equal to the less-than-fair sex - men. It’s there that she meets Vivien Lowry, a woman still grieving the loss of her fiancé in the war, and Grace Perkins, working to support her family with two sons and a husband. These three will form a lasting bond. The first rule of working there listed, if not rule number 1, is that tea is to be served ‘promptly’ four times every day. Imagine all those years of an education at Cambridge wasted on pouring tea for co-workers. Of course, there are other rules, but for the women working there who had grown accustomed to being considered necessary in the workforce during the war, it was a bitter pill to swallow that they were now being relegated to serving the men. There are brief moments of romance in this story, and a few noted authors of the time appear in this story, Daphne du Maurier, Jane Webb, Samuel Beckett, as well as others, and one novel that is at the heart of this story. This also, if somewhat lightly, touches on misogyny, the more controlling and abusive natures of some men, as well as the thinly veiled racism toward ‘others.’ As in The Jane Austen Society this is a somewhat lighter read that while touching on some heavier themes, is nevertheless entertaining. Published: 17 May 2022 Many thanks for the ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mai Nguyễn

    Natalie is one of my favorite authors and human beings. The Jane Austen Society was one of my best books of 2020 and its sequel, Bloomsbury Girls, is one of my favorite novels this year. The author sent me her work-in-process manuscript and I devoured it in three days. I could not put it down. I can't wait for this book to be born and celebrated by readers everywhere. Natalie is one of my favorite authors and human beings. The Jane Austen Society was one of my best books of 2020 and its sequel, Bloomsbury Girls, is one of my favorite novels this year. The author sent me her work-in-process manuscript and I devoured it in three days. I could not put it down. I can't wait for this book to be born and celebrated by readers everywhere.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I read the entirety of Bloomsbury Girls in just over 48 hours, a miracle for someone who had been struggling to read a full book for nearly six months. I'll describe Bloomsbury Girls just as I did Yours, Cheerfully, as a book that felt like returning to all your old friends after nearly two years of great change and uncertainty. When I read The Jane Austen Society, we were only a month into the pandemic and the bookstore was still completely closed and I missed it dearly. I remarked that Natalie I read the entirety of Bloomsbury Girls in just over 48 hours, a miracle for someone who had been struggling to read a full book for nearly six months. I'll describe Bloomsbury Girls just as I did Yours, Cheerfully, as a book that felt like returning to all your old friends after nearly two years of great change and uncertainty. When I read The Jane Austen Society, we were only a month into the pandemic and the bookstore was still completely closed and I missed it dearly. I remarked that Natalie, as a former bookseller, had written the perfect book for booksellers with her debut, an absolute booksellers' dream of a novel. And now she has topped herself. While I think I will always love The Jane Austen Society more, Bloomsbury Girls has forced me to redefine my expectation of the perfect bookseller book; Bloomsbury Girls is the perfect book for booksellers. Natalie's books have helped me identify a new favorite subgenre, one I'm calling mid-century feminist historical fiction with a hint of coziness. Within each of the booksellers of Bloomsbury Books, I found myself and each of my coworkers. As someone who has always been part of a staff at the store of mostly women with a man at the helm, I could overwhelmingly relate (not a knock on my bosses, but sometimes they just don't think of things as women do). In Alec, head of fiction, I saw my current boss, the man who loves spending time on the floor talking about his favorite books but leaves the back office work in chaos. In Mr. Dutton, general manager, my former boss, happy to continue on as things were with a great wealth of knowledge of the book world. In Evie, the many girls who have come through the store who were shelving whizzes and who taught me so much about how Gen Z appreciates backlist titles they found on Book Tok. In Ash, head of science, my own husband (though not a bookstore employee, but a customer of said store for 30 years and unofficial curator of the science section). And in Grace and Vivien, myself. In Grace, the need to keep everything organized and on track, and in Vivien, the spark to have women's voices heard and elevated on all the shelves. Bloomsbury Books is a shop run by men in the world of men. But in 1950, the world of men is changing. The women of the world went to work during WWII and were not too happy to just pack it in and go back to being mothers and housewives and secretaries. The world of men in academia faced a reckoning as well, which lands our dear Evie at Bloomsbury Books with a score to settle with the men of Cambridge. The women of Bloomsbury Books do not have the trust funds and family money to settle back on if things don't work out, they are middle class women working because they need to, as so many of us do today. For them to reach their goals, luck and fate often need to intervene because sheer hard work is not enough if they're up against a man for the same position. And lucky for us, dear readers, luck and fate find their way to Grace, Vivien and dear Evie, in the form of many well, and sometimes less well, known women of the literary world of the mid-twentieth century, including one very well known gothic writer and a few prominent widows. The women know what it is to work hard for little recognition and take our booksellers under wing to tremendous effect. Bloomsbury Girls is the perfect book for not only booksellers (though it will be greatly loved by those of us who peddle books for a living) but for anyone who longs to see women doing great things in a time when the odds were stacked even higher against them. It's a must read for historical fiction lovers, and for those who love my new favorite subgenre, feminist mid-century historical fiction with a hint of coziness, as well!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *3.5 stars rounded up. It's 1950 and London is still struggling to recover from the war. Three young women, Grace, Vivien and Evie, have each come to work at Bloomsbury Books, the venerable old London bookshop, in the belief that 'London would always reward the risk-takers and rule-breakers.' But it doesn't seem that way for the women in this shop which is run by Herbert Dutton, the longtime general manager, a man so buttoned up, he has created an iron-clad set of rules for all employees. And th *3.5 stars rounded up. It's 1950 and London is still struggling to recover from the war. Three young women, Grace, Vivien and Evie, have each come to work at Bloomsbury Books, the venerable old London bookshop, in the belief that 'London would always reward the risk-takers and rule-breakers.' But it doesn't seem that way for the women in this shop which is run by Herbert Dutton, the longtime general manager, a man so buttoned up, he has created an iron-clad set of rules for all employees. And the biggest rule seems to be that nothing shall change. But then Dutton falls ill and Vivien is promoted to floor manager of fiction. She has lots of innovative ideas, including promoting little-known women authors. The three female employees concoct a plan to invite Daphne Du Maurier to speak at a midday literary event and things at Bloomsbury will never be the same. I would call this a relaxing and charming read though there is some tension and personal drama dealing with sexist and racial issues. But all-in-all, it's an enjoyable story about books, writing, and authors. Lots of historic name dropping! I haven't read the first book in this series, The Jane Austen Society, but didn't find that to be a problem as any details needed were part of this plot. I received an arc of this new novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    What is not to like with a novel about an English bookshop, a group of diverse employees and famous writers here and there. Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner is that book. Although this is not listed as a sequel, there is a link to The Jane Austen Society in the person of Evie Stone who is an important character in both books. The time is after World War II. The place is London, which is beautifully described as characters wander there on their days off. Bloomsbury Books has been in business fo What is not to like with a novel about an English bookshop, a group of diverse employees and famous writers here and there. Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner is that book. Although this is not listed as a sequel, there is a link to The Jane Austen Society in the person of Evie Stone who is an important character in both books. The time is after World War II. The place is London, which is beautifully described as characters wander there on their days off. Bloomsbury Books has been in business for a hundred years and not much has changed in that time. The management of this establishment are all male. There are three female employees: Vivien, Grace and Evie. Life is not easy to navigate for the women in more ways than one. The relationship between men and women is at the centre of this intricate plot. The rest of the story you must read for yourself. Natalie Jenner has written a thoughtful, honest and fair look at life in a post-war London bookshop and reading Bloomsbury Girls is an absolute pleasure. This is historical fiction at its best. A cup of tea, a comfy corner and this book is all you need for a satisfying read. Highly recommended. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    What a wonderful adventure into the world of books! Book lovers will delight in this journey as they meet three women in 1950s London who are oppressed by the times they are in but refuse to give up their dreams. Vivien, Grace, and Evie all experience struggles in a career dominated by men, but they push to change the way of society in a difficult time. I loved that each of the chapter headings begins with one of Mr. Dutton’s rules for the shop. The audiobook narration by Juliet Stevenson was ve What a wonderful adventure into the world of books! Book lovers will delight in this journey as they meet three women in 1950s London who are oppressed by the times they are in but refuse to give up their dreams. Vivien, Grace, and Evie all experience struggles in a career dominated by men, but they push to change the way of society in a difficult time. I loved that each of the chapter headings begins with one of Mr. Dutton’s rules for the shop. The audiobook narration by Juliet Stevenson was very well done, and she kept each character distinct and memorable. We meet important women in the literary world, such as Ellen Doubleday, and we watch as our three heroines work to define their place at Bloomsbury Books. This is simply a glorious battle of wits that will delight anyone who adores books. I received a free copy of this audiobook from Austenprose PR via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    She had long known the value in being underestimated. Evie Stone, from Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner Diminutive, quiet, studious and precise, Evie Stone was often overlooked. Vivien stood out with her cats-eye makeup and trendy black sweater and pencil skirt, and she had a sharp tongue and mind. Her upper crust fiancé was killed in the war. Grace was classy and composed, the perfect help-mate at home or at work, her deeper passions hidden under layers of obligation. The men at Bloomsbury Book She had long known the value in being underestimated. Evie Stone, from Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner Diminutive, quiet, studious and precise, Evie Stone was often overlooked. Vivien stood out with her cats-eye makeup and trendy black sweater and pencil skirt, and she had a sharp tongue and mind. Her upper crust fiancé was killed in the war. Grace was classy and composed, the perfect help-mate at home or at work, her deeper passions hidden under layers of obligation. The men at Bloomsbury Books underestimated these shop girls, learning too late that their male privilege and power had its limits. The women, they discover, and their larger community of female friends from power and wealth, were not to be kept down. Writing had always been the one safe place where Vivien could think and say whatever she wanted. Vivian Lowry, from Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner Natalie Jenner’s debut novel The Jane Austen Society was a favorite 2020 read, a balm during an anxious time. The story of diverse people coming together over a love of Austen, forming a community that achieves the remarkable, was comforting and inspiring. In Bloomsbury Girls, Jenner continues Evie Stone’s story to London. The one-time servant girl in the Chawton Great House, her research skills honed in the Chawton library, she worked her way to being in the first Cambridge class with women allowed to earn a degree. She needed a stipend to continue her work, but her hope is dashed when she loses a fellowship to a man, forcing her to seek employment. Evie is hired by the bookstore on the basis of a letter of recommendation and her ability to stay calm under duress–which is tested during her interview. Evie has a secret mission: she has discovered that the bookstore has purchased a rare book that she intends to find, an early sci-fi written in 1827 by a woman. If only she can find it and publish it, her career would be started. Grace’s ideas for improving the shop seemed to do nothing so much as put him on edge. Grace Perkins, from Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner The women have ideas to improve sales, but the men won’t listen. The women want to promote female writers. But the men don’t agree. It’s a battle of the sexes, but most of all, a battle between the way things have always been done and changing with the times. The bookstore owner, Lord Baskin, has a soft spot for the store, and for Grace, but has been asked to sell the business to the manager Mr. Dutton and acquisitions manager Frank Allen. Even Alec, head of fiction, has his eye on owning the store. What the men don’t know is that the women have plans of their own. She had always resented how an adherence to rules and hierarchy served mostly to protect and promote the men of the shop. from Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner I loved all the characters in the store. There is fussy Mr. Dutton with his list of rules, one of which starts each chapter. There are the women with their dreams and romantic problems. Ash, from India, coping with racism in Britain, unable to find suitable work as a scientist and is sequestered in the bookshop with his entomology slides. We meet all kinds of historical figures, from Daphne du Maurier to Peggy Guggenheim and the Mrs. George Orwell (or, the ‘girl in the fiction department’ in Nineteen Eighty-Four, she notes). Samuel Becket upsets reporters at a reading. The men reminisce, “Remember when Stephen Spender….” Britain in 1950 is brought to life, the tension between men endeavoring to resurrect the past while the women strive for greater freedom, the sexes in a struggle over the balance of power. It’s a delightful read, written with humor and love. I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wendy W.

    Four and a half Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭒ 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 resear Four and a half Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭒ 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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee

    3.5 ⭐ The description of this book intrigued me and I was looking forward to it. This was pretty slow moving for me, but I continued and found the later portion more engaging. Three women work at Bloomsbury books. An old fashion bookstore in 1950s post war London. The store is basically run by the men, but these women love their jobs here, and they also are looking for equality in the workforce. This book also includes some famous authors as characters, when they make appearances at the shop. I t 3.5 ⭐ The description of this book intrigued me and I was looking forward to it. This was pretty slow moving for me, but I continued and found the later portion more engaging. Three women work at Bloomsbury books. An old fashion bookstore in 1950s post war London. The store is basically run by the men, but these women love their jobs here, and they also are looking for equality in the workforce. This book also includes some famous authors as characters, when they make appearances at the shop. I thought this was a well written book,  it just wasn't my favorite. I have seen so many awesome reviews for it, so I'd still say if it sounds like one you'd like, pick it up.  Thank you to the publisher for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bkwmlee

    Natalie Jenner’s Bloomsbury Girls can best be described as a companion novel to her 2020 debut novel The Jane Austen Society . While the story itself is completely different, with an essentially new cast of characters, there are a few overlapping characters from the original story who also make appearances this time around. First and foremost, of course, is Evelyn (Evie) Stone, the servant girl from the Chawton Great House who was a side character in that story, but is one of the main ch Natalie Jenner’s Bloomsbury Girls can best be described as a companion novel to her 2020 debut novel The Jane Austen Society . While the story itself is completely different, with an essentially new cast of characters, there are a few overlapping characters from the original story who also make appearances this time around. First and foremost, of course, is Evelyn (Evie) Stone, the servant girl from the Chawton Great House who was a side character in that story, but is one of the main characters this time around. Evie, along with Vivien Lowry and Grace Perkins, are the only female employees at Bloomsbury Books in London, a centuries-old bookstore helmed by general manager Herbert Dutton and his unbreakable fifty-one rules. Though the Second World War is over and the city has pretty much returned to normal, struggles in society still exist, especially for the women who find themselves back in a world run once again by men who feel that the workplace where business is conducted is “no place for a woman.” It is against this backdrop that Evie, who despite her scholarly achievements (a degree from Cambridge as part of the first female graduating class), impeccable work ethic, and several years of meticulous research work, is passed up for a research assistant position in favor of a male colleague who did less work, but managed to ingratiate himself with the powers-that-be at the school. Through her connection to fellow Jane Austen Society member Yardley Sinclair (the director of museum services at Sotheby’s), Evie is able to secure a position at Bloomsbury, where she is tasked with cataloging the bookstore’s collection of rare books on the third floor. There, she meets the stylish and vivacious Vivien Lowry, an aspiring writer whose job it is to man the front desk in the fiction department on the first floor, as well as Grace Perkins, a wife and mother who works to support her family (a rarity at that time) as the secretary for the general manager. Together, these three women navigate an environment where they are expected to conform to certain roles, are largely taken for granted, and most frustratingly, must deal with the daily biases of the well-intentioned but misguided male staff who run the store. As Evie, Vivien, and Grace seek to pursue their dreams and try to build a future for themselves outside of the conventions allowed by society, they are assisted along the way by some of the most famous names from the literary and publishing world of the time, such as Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, etc. Going into this book, I wasn’t sure at first whether I would enjoy this as much as I did Jenner’s first book, since this time around, I knew the story would have nothing to do with Jane Austen (as I wrote in my review of that book, I’m a huge Austen fan). Even though I recognized Evie’s name as one of the characters from The Jane Austen Society , I honestly didn’t put two and two together until about halfway through the Prologue, when Mimi’s name came up, then Yardley’s, then recollections of Chawton and the Great House and the auction — that was when the details of that story started coming back to me. The realization that this was a “sequel” of sorts to that book definitely changed the reading experience for me, especially as I anticipated, perhaps, there would be the chance to reunite with some of the other endearing characters from that story. While I was delighted that this happened to be the case (though only two of those characters had cameos, but that’s fine, lol), I also ended up liking the characters in this story as well. As an avid reader, I also loved the literary bent to this story, with the bookstore setting and the literary references, plus all the famous literary figures who interact with the various characters. This made for a fun and interesting read — in fact, Jenner did such a good job incorporating the literary figures into the story that I actually felt transported to that time period (to the point that I found myself fangirling over Daphne Du Maurier at the moment Vivien meets her and realizes who she is, lol). The “fun” part aside though, Jenner didn’t skimp on addressing some of the societal issues that were prevalent during that time, such as gender bias and the role of women as well as discrimination towards those of a different race (through the character of Ashwin). With this story, I felt the balance between serious and lighthearted was quite well done. While it’s not necessary to have read The Jane Austen Society in order to read this one, I’m actually glad I did, as having the familiarity with Evie’s backstory definitely enhanced this story for me. I look forward to reading what Jenner has in store for us next! Received ARC from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    Bloomsbury Books is an old fashioned and rare book store in 1950 that has been in existence in Englad for over a hundred years. It is run by men but the real back bone of the store are the women. This shop has fifty one rules and all the employees know them and know when an employee is not following them. It is after world war two and things are changing now in publishing and the world in general despite the men not welcoming these changes. The book is rich with literary figures and details. I re Bloomsbury Books is an old fashioned and rare book store in 1950 that has been in existence in Englad for over a hundred years. It is run by men but the real back bone of the store are the women. This shop has fifty one rules and all the employees know them and know when an employee is not following them. It is after world war two and things are changing now in publishing and the world in general despite the men not welcoming these changes. The book is rich with literary figures and details. I really would have loved to visit this book store, so much going on here. Full of nostalgia . Delves into women's rights and sexism. Published May 17th 2022 I was given a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Claudia

    What a charming book! I think this book convinced me that I like historical fiction more than I thought I did. This was a nice warm blanket of a story and one that makes me want to go back and read her previous novel The Jane Austen Society. In this book we follow three separate women who all work at a bookstore in post WWII London. Evie Stone beings working there after she obtained her degree from Cambridge but found herself struggling to find a research position at the school to lesser qualifi What a charming book! I think this book convinced me that I like historical fiction more than I thought I did. This was a nice warm blanket of a story and one that makes me want to go back and read her previous novel The Jane Austen Society. In this book we follow three separate women who all work at a bookstore in post WWII London. Evie Stone beings working there after she obtained her degree from Cambridge but found herself struggling to find a research position at the school to lesser qualified male candidates. Vivenne works while secretly working on her own writing ambitions and finds herself annoyed at the men who ignore her ideas for better sales and events at the shop. Grace finds herself more satisfied at work than with her husband at home who has become more and more hard to deal with. This was just a nice story. I’m not even quite sure how to analyze it. It was soft and allowed you to drift along with the conflicts without ever getting too upset or worried about the characters because you just knew it would work out fine. Even some of the main conflicts or villains of the story were given lessons and learned from their mistakes. It’s a truly feel good story and one I suppose I needed at this moment. The characters were nice and felt simple but real. The only reason its down from 5 stars to 4 is that I think I could have focused on any one of these women and gotten a more full story but focusing on all three gave me only glimpses. I also loved how this story incorporated inclusion, which is something that historical fiction seems to struggle with. The way they mention the outside fears and prejudices of the world while showing their own small bubble of accepting made it feel like a happy place. Overall, I really enjoyed this and had a silly smile on my face while listening to it. Thank you to Macmillan Audio and Netgalley for the audiobook in exchange for an honest review. The audio was narrated by Juliet Stevenson, who did a good job.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    In post-war London, Bloomsbury Books has survived The Blitz until Vivien Lowry, Grace Perkins, and Evie Stone set off their own bomb on the stuffy all-male management. What ensues is the most delightful, witty, and endearing story you will read this year. Natalie Jenner, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, proves that she was not a one hit wonder. Like Austen, her second book is even better than the first.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chantel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is important to note that the majority of the themes explored in this book deal with sensitive subject matters. My review, therefore, touches on these topics as well. Many people might find the subject matters of the book as well as those detailed in my review overwhelming. I would suggest you steer clear of both if this is the case. Please note that from this point forward I will be writing about matters which contain reflections on racism, racial prejudice, domestic abuse, mental illness, & It is important to note that the majority of the themes explored in this book deal with sensitive subject matters. My review, therefore, touches on these topics as well. Many people might find the subject matters of the book as well as those detailed in my review overwhelming. I would suggest you steer clear of both if this is the case. Please note that from this point forward I will be writing about matters which contain reflections on racism, racial prejudice, domestic abuse, mental illness, & others. After the end of the Second World War England finds itself shifting; forced to lean to the side due to the pressures mounting by the desirous women to be free & be recognized as valuable individuals by their fellow countrymen. In the bookstore that services gentlemen, the intelligentsia & a growing population of tourists; Bloomsbury Books finds itself at the centre of one such overwhelming change. I will not lie to you & say that this is a book that everyone should read or one that everyone would enjoy. The story itself centres around a select group of characters, most of whom are employees at the bookstore & therefore the scenes that transpire on the page, often, do not move past the walls of the shop. The central conflict of the story is one that requires the reader's interest, if minimal, in the world of publishing & the acknowledgment of the sufferance of the female population to acquire, shall we say, equitable rights in their country. Following Grace, Vivien & Evie as primary characters through a selected period of time, the reader learns about the lives these women lead outside of work; the struggles of coming to terms with domestic abuse, internalized anger, & desires of fulfilling academic dreams, to name a few. Should you be seeking a read that does not pose much of a worrisome conflict, this book is one I would recommend. At its core, the story presents no need for the reader to feel anxious or scared about the fates of the characters & their quest for ownership of Bloomsbury Books. Having not read the first instalment of what I later learnt was becoming something of a series, or a continuation, if you will, I did not find that any of the tendencies presented in Evie were confusing or required my holding previous knowledge & experience with her, to appreciate her participation in the plot. This leads me to my first point of praise. Though there are many characters in this book, some of whom are grumbling tertiary presences, no one felt underdeveloped or pointless; every single character had a purpose, was well fleshed-out, three-dimensional & sincere. Jenner demonstrated a clear idea of the people she wanted to have present in her book & was able to fulfill that desire eloquently. I truly felt as though I had taken a moment to peer into the lives of the people within the lines of this story. That is not to say that I liked every character. I was hard-pressed to find it in myself to sympathize with Vivien at any point. The constant anger & quickly brutalizing temper that Vivien fostered rendered me irritated with her presence more times than not. I did try & rationalize her behaviours as coming from someone who was always underestimated. The family of her late fiancé didn’t like her because she was not wealthy enough. The men at Bloomsbury Books did not permit her knowledge to be utilized because to them, she was nothing but a pretty lady. Society as a whole would not acknowledge Vivien as an individual capable of independent thought & notions, therefore leaving her very little to feel happy or excited about. Yet, when it came time for honesty & discussions of emotions, Vivien shied away & ultimately refused to acknowledge her feelings as being in conjunction with her entity. I cannot say that this was wrong, who is to say that none of us have or would not do the same as she, given all the circumstances. Even with the annoyance that I felt during some of the dialogues or confusion about the inclusion of certain aspects, I think it’s nice to read a story that is gentle & calm. This book presented such an array of characters that feeling a lack of connection with any one of them did not take away from the overall enjoyment of the book as a whole. For example, I quickly found myself rooting for Grace. I became worried about where her storyline would go & truly was hoping that Jenner would write her as having a happy ending. She was such a warm character to read about that I truly was content if the book compromised itself to allow her to find peace in her life. Dealing with the repercussions of war & mental illness from her husband, Grace was maneuvering her way in a world that always looked past her. I was beyond pleased when we read about her realizing her worth. It’s difficult to move past the cycles of abuse but Grace found it within the world around her, with the support of her friends & family, to seek out a better life for her & her children. Regardless of the extremities which were transpiring in this story, it is easy to hope for the best for each character. When the reader is introduced to Evie, a person who is completely cast aside for being silent & intellectually driven, I was worried that we might see her fall to the waste side. It’s refreshing to read about an intelligent character who has a fully formed personality; someone who might not have everything figured out across the board but, who knows objectively that there are good things to be found in life. When Evie comes to the shop after being snuffed for an internship I was excited for her to find herself amongst people who could match her enjoyment of literary practices. I was encouraged by the way that Jenner wrote about Evie’s relationship with Ash. The subject matter of racial prejudice in literature is tricky to include. What one might not seek to acknowledge is that racism is not necessarily found in the boisterous voices of those with less than stellar understandings of human beings on a scientific level, that is to say, the comprehension of the body as a genetic entity versus the unbelievably ignorant one; imagining that Ash being from India makes him lesser-than every other white Brit in London. The method with which Jenner includes the lived realities of Indian people coming to England, living alongside the colonial presence of the English in India, was very well done & I am glad to see the topic approached in such a way as to lead the reader to understand that racially motivated & performed acts of prejudice are accomplished with the complacency of those who move down the bench alongside everyone else, to further their bodies from the person whose skin colour is different from theirs. We did not need to read what the man said after pushing Evie out of the way; many people have already been personally told those invisible words. As an aside, I did enjoy the inclusion of historical figures throughout the story. I cannot say that it brought me an overt level of enjoyment but, it did encourage me to seek out the works of these women & ensure that I was giving a fair shot to all writers. I particularly enjoyed the search for “The Mummy!” throughout the plot. I had never heard of Loudon & am happy to say that I shall be seeking out her work in future. If anything, it’s positive to include such non-fiction figures into a fictional world if only to raise awareness of the amplitude of courage & force that they brought forth in the world. Overall, I would say that this was a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It’s a calming story that highlights a changing world & puts forth the works of literature that supported the shifting times. Isn’t it wonderful to realize that the stories that were written all those years ago, & further back still, exist in the same world in which we live & breathe today? Jenner crafts a formidable story of the publishing world, the men & women who built it into the diverse & powerful entity it is & the writers who uplifted the world with their words. Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press & Natalie Jenner for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    I was a huge fan of "The Jane Austen Society" when I read it last year. So I am so excited to have the opportunity to read an early copy of "Bloomsbury Girls" that was even a more delightful read for me, that follows Evie from Jenner's previous novel. The Bloomsbury Girls follow three women - the ever so fashionable and witty Vivien Lowry, a mother's strength is tested through Grace Perkins, and our scholar from Cambridge Evie Stone who is doing her best to path her own way in a man's world. Blo I was a huge fan of "The Jane Austen Society" when I read it last year. So I am so excited to have the opportunity to read an early copy of "Bloomsbury Girls" that was even a more delightful read for me, that follows Evie from Jenner's previous novel. The Bloomsbury Girls follow three women - the ever so fashionable and witty Vivien Lowry, a mother's strength is tested through Grace Perkins, and our scholar from Cambridge Evie Stone who is doing her best to path her own way in a man's world. Bloomsbury Girls is set during post war London when everything is moving at a fast pace, where society is demanding to keep up with the times, in this impressive novel that is the perfect read with lots of cameos from some of my favorite female authors. This novel was definitely charming, heart warming, and impossible to put down, I mean a historical fiction novel set in a bookstore, interweaving some of the most famous names in classical literature made this truly a book lovers' dream read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I really enjoyed this book and that was because I had read The Jane Austen Society. In this book you will find a number of my (and probably your) favorite characters. Evie Stone is a particular favorite because of her passion for rescuing books that she thinks should not be forgotten. I also enjoyed the new characters that were presented in this story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonann loves book talk❤♥️❤

    In Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner, we meet three unique women who work in Bloomsbury Books. The bookstore is a traditional 1950's work environment staffed by male management (who insist on the strict adherence to the employee store rules). Let's meet the delightful characters: Vivien Lowry, is a beautiful single (sometimes sassy) woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. She often butts heads with her very competitive manager Alex McDonough. Vivien want's to move up in the company. Will she In Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner, we meet three unique women who work in Bloomsbury Books. The bookstore is a traditional 1950's work environment staffed by male management (who insist on the strict adherence to the employee store rules). Let's meet the delightful characters: Vivien Lowry, is a beautiful single (sometimes sassy) woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. She often butts heads with her very competitive manager Alex McDonough. Vivien want's to move up in the company. Will she achieve her dreams? Grace Perkins, is a devoted employee. She is classy and the ultimate professional at her job, but her home life is a different story. Grace is married to a very difficult man who constantly causes grief in her life. They have to two sons. Can Grace find happiness? Evie Stone, is a studious brilliant woman who was the first female to earn her degree from Cambridge. She accepts a job at Bloomsbury Books while getting her future on track. Will Evie achieve the success she deserves? The Bloomsbury Girls is a soft sweet novel with humorous banter mixed in. It represents the struggle of women during that era to be treated equal to men. I love the inclusion of notable women of that time period such as "Dahine Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair, and Peggy Guggenheim". Literacy Fiction lovers will enjoy this interesting look back in time. It will be published May17th. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press, for allowing me to review this book. I appreciate your kindness.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner St. Martin's Press Pub Date: May 17 Readers and booksellers alike will adore Bloomsbury Girls, a 1950s spin-off of sorts from author Natalie Jenner's wonderful debut, The Jane Austen Society. Some characters from the first appear in this latest, including Evie, who joins the London bookshop, Bloomsbury Books, to secretly find a rare copy of The Mummy: The first woman-written science fiction book. What happens when she finds it sends the narrative a whirl! This fine Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner St. Martin's Press Pub Date: May 17 Readers and booksellers alike will adore Bloomsbury Girls, a 1950s spin-off of sorts from author Natalie Jenner's wonderful debut, The Jane Austen Society. Some characters from the first appear in this latest, including Evie, who joins the London bookshop, Bloomsbury Books, to secretly find a rare copy of The Mummy: The first woman-written science fiction book. What happens when she finds it sends the narrative a whirl! This fine tale captured me as Evie and her colleagues -- widow Vivien and married Grace forced to work because her husband can't -- develop supportive relationships as they strive to realize dreams of a better life. Across their path come luminaries from the literary and art worlds, including Daphne du Maurier, Samuel Beckett, and Peggy Guggenheim, who add richness to a story I absolutely loved. Highly recommended! Thanks to the author, St. Martin's Press, and and NetGalley for the ARC; opinions are mine. #BloomsburyGirls #NatalieJenner #stmartinspress #NetGalley #1950LondonNovel #fiftiesbookstore #feminism #postwarBritain #booksellers #SequelTheJaneAustenSociety #bookstagramcommunity

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