Monday, June 5, 2023

The Radcliffe Ladies’ Reading Club by Julia Bryan Thomas

For readers of Martha Hall Kelly and Beatriz Williams comes poignant historical fiction that reminds us that literature has the power to speaks to everyone uniquely — but also to draw us together.

Massachusetts, 1954. With bags packed alongside her heavy heart, Alice Campbell escaped halfway across the country and found herself in front of a derelict building tucked among the cobblestone streets of Cambridge. She turns it into the enchanting bookshop of her dreams, knowing firsthand the power of books to comfort the brokenhearted.

The Cambridge Bookshop soon becomes a haven for Tess, Caroline, Evie, and Merritt, who are all navigating the struggles of being newly independent college women in a world that seems to want to keep them in the kitchen. But when a member of the group finds herself shattered, everything they know about themselves will be called into question.

From the author of For Those Who Are Lost comes an extraordinary love letter to books and friendship, a story that is at once heart-wrenching, strengthening, and inspiring.

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication June 6, 2023
 by Sourcebooks Landmark
4/5 stars

I went into this book blind, meaning when I requested it from NetGalley it sounded like something I would enjoy, and by the time I read it last week I had totally forgotten what it was about. Which is a great way to read, imho.

Alice is the owner of the book shop having recently relocated to Boston from Chicago. She starts a book club that garnish the attention of Tess, a Radcliffe student.  Tess in turn convinces her roommate, Caroline and fellow classmates to join. The bookclub part was a nice touch.  I have never read any of the books that were featured but am curious now, given that I was a fly on the wall listening to the discussions.  Suffice to say I have since added them all to my TBR.

This story takes place in the 1950s, a time when women pursuing higher education was uncommon. Most women were expected to focus on getting married and starting a family. But then there are these four older teens, each with their own unique backgrounds, personalities, and goals.

The Radcliffe Ladies' Reading Club is a well written coming of age story that was true to the times. It's about friendship, status and pulled at the heartstrings.  It would make a great book club read - lots of themes to discuss. This is my first time reading a Julie Bryan Thomas book, I will be on the lookout for more of her books.

My thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for a digital art and exchange for a honest review. This book releases tomorrow.

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