Evie Stone is one of the first young women to graduate from Cambridge University. Unable to gain employment at Cambridge as a research assistant, she finds a job at Bloomsbury Books. It's 1950 and the historic bookstore is run by Herbert Dutton, whose health is failing. He manages the store with a long list of rules that are restrictive and ridiculous. Especially to young and smart Evie and the two other women who work in the shop. Vivien Lowry, an aspiring writer, had lost her fiancé in WWII. Grace Perkins, a working mother, is stifled by a difficult husband she has drifted apart from. The rest of the staff is comprised of a group of men who are dealing with their own issues. Lord Baskin, the store’s owner and landlord, is grappling with the fact that while he lives high on the social ladder, he is in desperate need of cash. Selling the bookstore could solve some of his problems but he is hesitant to walk away from it.
Readers of author Natalie Jenner’s enjoyable debut, The Jane Austen Society, will remember the character of Evie. While Bloomsbury Girls is not a sequel, Evie continues to grow and impress those around her, as she did in the first book. Members of the Society makes welcome appearances and provide the young woman with support and guidance. Together, the three women in the bookstore show ingenuity and their efforts start to yield positive results including a successful in-store event with Daphne du Maurier. This lovely book captures the post-war era well. It shows the people of London, during the early 50s, recovering from the scars of the war and women starting to play a larger role outside the home. The book weaves in appearances of real-life figures such as du Maurier, Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim and others, which enhances the story. There is a major part of the plot that involves the 1827 novel The Mummy by Jane Webb, which I found especially fascinating. You’ll be rooting for Evie, Vivien and Grace in this enjoyable book.
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read Bloomsbury Girls in advance of its release.
Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: May 17, 2022.
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