COVER REVEAL: “Bloomsbury Girls” by Natalie Jenner

Welcome to my stop on the cover reveal tour for Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner! I loved her debut historical novel, The Jane Austen Society, which released last year. This next standalone book by Jenner features one of the side characters from it, just a little more into the future.

About the Book

“One bookshop. Fifty-one rules. Three women who break them all.”

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 bookstore 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 fiancé 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.

Release date: May 17, 2022

A Note from Natalie

“I never intended for Evie Stone to be a major character in my debut novel, let alone inspire my second one, Bloomsbury Girls. 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.”

The COVER!

BLOOMSBURY GIRLS: A Novel
Isn’t it gorgeous?!

About the Author

Natalie Jenner is the author of two books, the instant international bestseller THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY and BLOOMSBURY GIRLS. A Goodreads Choice Award finalist for best debut novel and historical fiction, THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller and has been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, a career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Preorder Bloomsbury Girls

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Review + Blog Tour: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

The Jane Austen Society Blog Tour Banner

Join the virtual online book tour of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, Natalie Jenner’s highly acclaimed debut novel May 25 through June 30, 2020. Seventy-five popular blogs and websites specializing in historical fiction, historical romance, women’s fiction, and Austenesque fiction will feature interviews and reviews of this post-WWII novel set in Chawton, England.

Today I’m featuring my review and thoughts on the story AND the lovely audiobook narrated by none other than Richard Armitage (you North & South fans will be swooning now, I know).

About the Book

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.The Jane Austen Society

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

AUDIOBOOK NARRATED BY ACTOR RICHARD ARMITAGE:

The full unabridged text of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY was read by the distinguished English film, television, theatre and voice actor Richard Armitage for the audiobook recording. Best known by many period drama fans for his outstanding performance as John Thornton in the BBC television adaptation of North and South (2004), Armitage also portrayed Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit (2012 – 2014).

Listen to a YouTube audiobook excerpt here.

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Review

Thought-provoking in its analysis of Austen, The Jane Austen Society at once pays homage and has an endearing, colorful cast of its own. The trials of war, survival, and carrying the burdens of others are themes that contrast with the tiny little moments that make up the joy of life all prevalent in this story of hope.

Natalie Jenner has an authorly voice that captures an era and a bright group of people with a beautiful cadence and concept. From details like the subtle and leading POV shifts to the timeline of the novel, all of the characters are introduced and set up extremely well before the deeper everydayness of their lives is explored. Their relationships intertwine and wind through the story, exploring the heart of friendship, companionship, sacrifice, and even romance.

I particularly appreciate how the pleasure of reading is portrayed in this story. The joy found in rereading favorite authors, the keen humanity found in Austen’s stories, the comfort of books, and literature as a uniting force are all concepts woven through polite conversations, characters’ thoughts, and ultimately a commonality bringing together an unlikely community. The analysis, in particular, of Austen’s depth and the slight parallels to her familiar tropes Natalie engages with her own characters are simply delightful.

I must mention there is more than one romantic thread in this story and ALL of them are a delight! The couple that parallels Emma and Knightley, though, are my absolute favorites! Their conversations are just so smart, meaningful, and full of wit. They forge their own identities, not merely regurgitations of Austen’s famous duo, as an intellectual and emotional match.

The audiobook version of this novel is a pleasure to listen to, as well. Narrator Richard Armitage delivers a memorable and impactful performance with various accents (English variations, American, and even Scottish!) and a heavy dose of emotion. His embodiment of the character Dr. Benjamin Gray, in particular, is my favorite.

I highly recommend this novel for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, author Katherine Reay, or fans of post-WWII stories of triumph.

 

**content note: to my readers who know I typically review inspirational fiction, I want to fill you in on some content expectations. This is a “secular” novel, and has some mild and brief strong language, and an implied homosexual relationship. **

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

About the Author

Author Natalie Jenner headshot X2 2020Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Blog Tour Stops

May 25           Jane Austen’s World

May 25           Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog

May 26           Frolic Media

May 26           A Bookish Affair

May 26           Courtney Reads Romance

May 26           Margie’s Must Reads

May 26           The Reading Frenzy

May 27           Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina

May 27           Gwendalyn’s Books

May 27           Romantically Inclined Reviews

May 28           Getting Your Read On

May 28           Living Read Girl

May 28           The Lit Bitch

May 29           History Lizzie

May 29           Silver Petticoat Reviews

May 30           Cup of Tea with that Book, Please

May 30           Historical Fiction Reader

May 31           Jane Austen in Vermont

June 01          From Pemberley to Milton

June 01          My Jane Austen Book Club

June 01          AustenBlog

June 02          Lu’s Reviews

June 02          The Green Mockingbird

June 03          The Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

June 03          Relz Reviews

June 03          Impressions in Ink

June 04          The Caffeinated Bibliophile

June 04          Life of Literature

June 04          Laura’s Reviews

June 05          Reading Ladies Book Club

June 05          Bookish Rantings

June 06          From the TBR Pile

June 07          Rachel Dodge

June 07          An Historian About Town

June 08          Bringing up Books

June 08          Austenesque Reviews

June 09          Captivated Reading

June 09          Savvy Verse and Witt

June 10          Lady with a Quill

June 10          Drunk Austen

June 11          Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

June 11          Inkwell Inspirations

June 12          Nurse Bookie

June 12          A Bookish Way of Life

June 13          Calico Critic

June 14          Jane Austen’s World

June 15          Stuck in a Book

June 15          Storybook Reviews

June 15          Confessions of a Book Addict

June 16          Literary Quicksand

June 16          Becky on Books

June 17          The Reading Frenzy

June 17          Anita Loves Books

June 18          Chicks, Rogues, & Scandals

June 18          The Write Review

June 19          Diary of Eccentric

June 20          Cracking the Cover

June 21          Short Books & Scribes

June 22          Reading the Past

June 22          Babblings of a Bookworm

June 23          My Vices and Weaknesses

June 23          The Book Diva Reads

June 24          Books, Teacups & Reviews

June 24          Wishful Endings

June 25          Robin Loves Reading

June 25          Bookfoolery

June 26          Lit and Life

June 26          Vesper’s Place

June 27          Foxes and Fairy Tales

June 28          Probably at the Library

June 28          Scuffed Slippers Wormy Books

June 29          The Anglophile Channel

June 29          So Little Time…

June 30          BookNAround

First Line Fridays # 31: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

It’s time for a new edition of First Line Fridays hosted by the Hoarding Books blog!

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With the new film “Emma” in theaters soon, Jane Austen and her works are on my mind. Ok, they’re never that far from it. With that in mind, this novel I’m featuring today promises Austen AND Post-WWII England delights. The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner releases in May, and it’s on my spring TBR!

Chawton, Hampshire

June 1932

He lay back on the low stone wall, knees pulled up, and stretched out his spine against the rock.

Your turn! What’s your first line?