Book Review: Bloomsbury Girls

Natalie Jenner ~ Bloomsbury Girls


Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances – most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time – Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others – these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.


If you’re looking for a book about women taking control of their lives, with a few mishaps along the way – not to mention a host of literary royalty – then you need to read the Bloomsbury Girls.

In 1950s London, Britain is still struggling to recover from the aftermath of the War. People changed, loved ones were lost and women took over the jobs left behind by men away fighting.

Bloomsbury Girls introduces us to Grace, Evie and Vivien; on paper they are very different, but their shared ambition brings them together. How can they succeed in a world where men are against them?

It’s a lovely story, with plenty of strong characters (male and female), as well as cameos from Sonia Orwell, Samuel Beckett and others. This gives the book credibility and I was swept up in the idea of a time where I too could’ve worked in a bookshop and rubbed shoulders with Daphne DuMaurier whilst surrounded by books!

Although some characters can be found in Jenner’s previous book, it works well as a stand-alone. I would have liked some characters’ back stories elaborated on slightly, but overall it’s a great book about courage, determination and the need to bend the rules from time to time!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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