It’s post WWII England.The town of Bloomsbury is filled with boutique shopping, quiet cafe’s and Bloomsbury Books. Open for 100 years, and owned by Lord Basking, it’s an institution resistant to change, or at least the men who run it are resistant. London is certainly eager to move on from the war. Bloomsbury Girls follows three women who work in the store and who want to make changes in their lives. Vivien is tired of men holding all the power and making all of the decisions. She has a vision for a bookstore that features female authors. Grace is married with two small boys and has taken a job at Bloomsbury Books to get away from a controlling husband and her worsening circumstances. Evie has finished her education at Cambridge but was beaten out for an assistant position in large part due to her being a woman despite better grades and higher intelligence. One night after a successful female author’s event Bloomsbury Books becomes the centerpiece for gathering women and the impetus for change.
While Bloomsbury Books is not the second in a series if you’ve read Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society, you’ll recognize quite a few of the characters. Evie was one of the six in that society in Chawton, England who found and helped evaluate Jane Austen’s library in her home. Now, after graduating, we see an older, yet still slightly naive Evie navigating a large city filled with different cultures and societal expectations. She was certainly the most shy of the three women yet grew the most throughout the novel. I loved her love story, but also how she started the novel naive and learned a little gamesmanship by the end.
Vivien was opinionated, outrageous, and super talented. She was an aspiring writer, but also saw how changes would make their bookstore grow. The men who managed the store were only interested in maintaining things the way that they’d always been done. Vivien was that strong wind of change and her wind was a hurricane gale force.
Grace, like a lot of women of her time found herself in a marriage that no longer gave her what she needed. She and her husband were on different paths and Grace’s journey throughout the book was a voyage of discovery and bravery. Would she or wouldn’t she take that chance to make a change.
Bloomsbury Girls had a methodical pace that allowed the reader to engage with each of the characters in the story and and feel for their circumstances, even if the time we live in has made some inroads into equality on the job and in the household. I really enjoyed the evolution of these characters and loved the conclusion to this novel. It might just be because I’m a woman but it was so satisfying! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest!
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