Bloomsbury Girls

St. Martin’s. May 2022. 368p. ISBN 9781250276698. $27.99. F
Jenner’s sequel to The Jane Austen Society can be enjoyed by those who have not read the first book. Set in 1950, it is the story of three women from different backgrounds who come together working in an old-fashioned bookstore in London, Bloomsbury Books. The shop runs with a strictly enforced list of “51 Rules” that ensure that only the men can make decisions or get ahead. Evie Stone, who appeared in the previous book, had hoped to launch an academic career at Cambridge, but was passed over for a man who was dating the professor’s daughter. Vivien Lowry was engaged to an aristocrat who was killed in World War II. Grace Perkins lives with two adored sons and a mentally ill, out-of-work husband who was changed by the war. There is sexual tension among characters, and they all have secrets. The novel’s background action includes real places in London and real literary figures of the time, including Daphne Du Maurier and Sonia Blair, George Orwell’s widow, who mentor the characters.
VERDICT For readers interested in women’s changing roles after World War II, with intriguing details of women’s lives and the spice of real writers.
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