Book Review – Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel by Allan R Ellenberger

Apart from hardcore classic film fans, actress Miriam Hopkins is not often  mentioned, which is a great shame in my opinion. She was an electric screen presence who achieved her greatest film success during the Pre-Code era. As a fan of her work, I’ve always wanted to know more about her and after eyeballing her biography for several years, finally made the time.

Though I’ve never encountered any of Allan R Ellenberger’s work before. he has written a handful of books on other film celebrities. Using multiple source materials he fleshes out a full-bodied portrait of the actress that has been sorely needed. Right away he sets the tone for his subject in his title choice, naming Miriam the Hollywood rebel that she was. Allanberger paints a portrait of a cunningly intelligent, often appealing woman whose independence and determination helped her succeed in a difficult business while also occasionally alienating people along the way. Continue reading “Book Review – Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel by Allan R Ellenberger”

Top Ten Tuesday -Favorite Quotes from Recent Reads

Today’s Topic:  Book Quote Freebie (Share your favorite book quotes that fit a theme of your choosing! These could be quotes about books/reading, or quotes from books. Some examples are: quotes for book lovers, quotes that prove reading is the best thing ever, funny things characters have said, romantic declarations, pretty scenery descriptions, witty snippets of dialogue, etc.)

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m always a fan of a good quote, no matter where it originates. This week I’m sharing quotes from some of my recent reads. There’s no real theme, just thoughts, statements and ideas from bookish characters that stood out to me. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Favorite Quotes from Recent Reads”

Book Review and Blog Tour – Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

I am honored and thrilled to be participating in my very first book tour for Natalie Jenner’s new release, Bloomsbury Girls. After discovering The Jane Austen Society last year, I discovered Jenner is an author worth reading and have  anticipated her latest with eagerness.

ABOUT THE BOOK
    • Title: Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel
    • Author: Natalie Jenner
    • Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
    • Publisher: ‎St. Martin’s Press (May 17, 2022)
    • Length: (368) pages
    • Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook 
    • ISBN: 978-1250276698
    • Tour Dates: May 2-29, 2022

Natalie Jenner, 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 in Bloomsbury Girls.

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.

PURCHASE LINKS

PRINT & DIGITAL BOOK
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

AUDIOBOOK
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

What an absolutely delightful story Bloomsbury Girls is!  Though it seemed to start a bit slow, I soon found myself engaged in the world of 1950’s London, Bloomsbury Books and it’s various inhabitants. By the end I was cheering and giggling with glee at the final outcome.

For those who read Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society, you should be just as pleased as I was to see more of Evie Stone, who is joined by a cast of fascinating characters including fellow female employees Vivian Lowery and Grace Perkins along with the men in charge of Bloomsbury Books, in what is a very well-written ensemble piece.

In essence, the main plot is an intriguing and respectfully written battle of the sexes and Evie’s arrival is the unwitting catalyst for change. Together with Grace and Vivien, the ladies slowly start to recognize injustice and begin challenging their male superiors at the bookshop. This leads to all sorts of delicious encounters for the women and bewildering upheavals for the men. I especially admired how Jenner weaves in real historical characters in a believable way. The ladies of Bloomsbury Books have the chance to mingle with literary hoi polloi; people like Daphne du Maurier, Samuel Beckett, George Orwell’s widow Sonya Brownell Blair, socialite Peggy Guggenheim, Ellen Doubleday (of the publishing house) and others. It was also nice to see the reappearance of Mimi Harrison and Yardley Sinclair, Evie’s friends from the Jane Austen Society.

Jenner wisely takes the time to build and develop each character’s background and personality so that their interests and motivations are easily understood. She makes them all feel so alive, that I felt I knew each of them personally, in their foibles, quirks, strengths and weaknesses. Bloomsbury Books itself is a supporting character in the story, a place of both refuge and war, limitation and inspiration.

Bloomsbury Girls is a very fitting title as each of the women who have found themselves buried under cultural expectations, grief, sexism, and emotional abuse begin to bloom into their full selves through their work at the store and their fight for equality until they all experience the freedom and independence they deserve.

I don’t usually listen to audio books as I am so easily distracted, but the narration by Juliet Stevenson is outstanding. Her adeptness at differentiating between the characters through tone, inflection and accents really added to my overall enchantment with Bloomsbury Girls.

I couldn’t find a single thing I didn’t enjoy about Bloomsbury Girls. In fact, I enjoyed it even more than its predecessor The Jane Austen Society. The pace starts slow before building to a crescendo of activity. Bloomsbury Books and its’ inhabitants are all people I grew to care about despite their imperfections. Or maybe because of them. I even appreciated that the feminist message actually ended in happy ever afters for the men as well as the women. This has been one of my favorite book experiences this year and one I don’t hesitate to recommend.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Jenner follows The Jane Austen Society (2020) with another top-notch reading experience, using the same deft hand at creating complex, emotionally engaging characters [against] a backdrop chock-full of factual historical information… Fans of Christina Baker Kline, Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff [will] appreciate this gem.” —Booklist (starred review)

“An illuminating yarn… Fans of emotional historical fiction will be charmed.” —Publishers Weekly

“Bloomsbury Girls is an immersive tale of three women determined to forge their own paths in 1950s London. Jenner has proven to be a master at spinning charming, earnest characters and paints a vivid picture of postwar England. I wanted to stay lost in her world forever!” —Stephanie Wrobel, internationally bestselling author of Darling Rose Gold

“Bloomsbury Girls is a book lover’s dream, one of those rare reads that elicits a sense of book-ish wistfulness and nostalgia. Jenner has created a colorful cast of characters in a story about friendship, perseverance, and the ways that determined women can band together in a man’s world. You’re in for a treat.” —Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary

“In a London still reeling from the ravages of World War II and the changes war has brought to English society, three young women take their futures into their own hands. With Bloomsbury Girls, Natalie Jenner has penned a timely and beautiful ode to ambition, friendship, bookshops, and the written word.” —Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library

“In post-war London, Bloomsbury Books survived The Blitz until Vivien Lowry, Grace Perkins, and Evie Stone set off their own bomb on the stuffy all-male management. What ensues is the most delightful, witty, and endearing story you will read this year. Natalie Jenner, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, proves that she was not a one hit wonder. Like Austen, her second book is even better than the first.” —Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It  

BOOK TRAILER
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOOXfMlNnjg

AUDIOBOOK
Narrated by esteemed stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, enjoy the full unabridged edition of Bloomsbury Girls. “Stevenson delivers the satisfying triumph at the end with perfect polish.” —AudioFile Magazine

AUDIOBOOK EXCERPT
https://soundcloud.com/macaudio-2/bloomsbury-girls-by-natalie-jenner-audiobook-introduction

A MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR

Dear readers, I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of affection that so many of you have expressed for my debut novel The Jane Austen Society and its eight main characters. When I wrote its epilogue (in one go and without ever changing a word), I wanted to give each of Adam, Mimi, Dr. Gray, Adeline, Yardley, Frances, Evie and Andrew the happy Austenesque ending they each deserved. But I could not let go of servant girl Evie Stone, the youngest and only character inspired by real life (my mother, who had to leave school at age fourteen, and my daughter, who does eighteenth-century research for a university professor and his team). Bloomsbury Girls continues Evie’s adventures into a 1950s London bookshop where there is a battle of the sexes raging between the male managers and the female staff, who decide to pull together their smarts, connections, and limited resources to take over the shop and make it their own. There are dozens of new characters in Bloomsbury Girls from several different countries, and audiobook narration was going to require a female voice of the highest training and caliber. When I learned that British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, CBE, had agreed to narrate, I knew that my story could not be in better hands, and I so hope you enjoy reading or listening to it. Warmest regards, Natalie

AUTHOR BIO

Natalie Jenner is the author of the instant international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, 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, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website to learn more.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Was Excited About, but Still Haven’t Read

Today’s Topic: Books I Was SO EXCITED to Get, but Still Haven’t Read

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

One of my favorite things about reading is the excitement and anticipation of a new book! It’s knowing I’m about to experience a unique world separate from the mundane of the everyday, and meet characters that eventually become like real people to me. Sadly, not every book I look forward to reading is one I am able to get to right away. Below are several that I still haven’t  had a chance to read yet, but still really want to. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Was Excited About, but Still Haven’t Read”

Top Ten Tuesday -Books Covers with Hats & Architecture

Today’s Topic: Books with [___] On the Cover

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

Hmm, I struggled a bit this week trying to narrow down my cover theme between hats and architectural details. Then it dawned on me, this is my website and I can do both! And in a closer look at the covers I chose, I noticed many with both hats and the architectural elements. When you think about it,  hats can have a very structural look, much like good architecture does. I do love a good strong line or a gorgeous arch. Both of which draw my eye but also serve to define the spaces around them.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday -Books Covers with Hats & Architecture”

Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To

Today’s Topic: Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

I’m pretty author-loyal and although I do look for books by authors who are new to me, the majority of my reading choices are by authors I know and trust. So finding options for this week’s theme was a challenge. So I was forced to comb through my TBR pile to look for books by authors I’ve not read before. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I Haven’t Read, But Want To”

Top Ten Tuesday – What’s In a Name?

Today’s Topic: Freebie

Hosted by: That Artsy Reader Girl

As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by names. As a child I treasured my dog-eared copy of a baby name book that I read over and over.  I love the meaning of names. I love how a name may or may not match a person’s character or personality. And so, for this week’s freebie, I wanted to focus on fictional character names that I either thought were interesting, unique or pretty. Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday – What’s In a Name?”