26 May 2022
My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
and to Random Things Tours for the invitation to the blog tour
1938: She was one of the six sparkling Mitford sisters, known for her stinging quips, stylish dress, and bright green eyes. But Nancy Mitford’s seemingly dazzling life was really one of turmoil: with a perpetually unfaithful and broke husband, two Nazi sympathizer sisters, and her hopes of motherhood dashed forever. With war imminent, Nancy finds respite by taking a job at the Heywood Hill Bookshop in Mayfair, hoping to make ends meet, and discovers a new life.
Present Day: When book curator Lucy St. Clair lands a gig working at Heywood Hill she can’t get on the plane fast enough. Not only can she start the healing process from the loss of her mother, it’s a dream come true to set foot in the legendary store. Doubly exciting: she brings with her a first edition of Nancy’s work, one with a somewhat mysterious inscription from the author. Soon, she discovers her life and Nancy’s are intertwined, and it all comes back to the little London bookshop—a place that changes the lives of two women from different eras in the most surprising ways.
📖 My Review...
I must admit that, apart from knowing that Nancy Mitford wrote The Pursuit of Happiness, I knew nothing about her personal life, or that, in the years between the First and Second World Wars, Nancy was a member of that group of young socialites who were known as the ‘bright young things’. And what a fascinating story Nancy has to tell us in The Mayfair Bookshop...
Told in two distinct time-frames, the story flips, in alternate chapters, between the 1930s and 1940s with Nancy’s story, and then comes right up to date in the present, as book curator, Lucy St Clair attempts to piece together the details of Nancy’s life. On a special assignment, Lucy's quest takes her to the Heywood Hill bookshop on Curzon Street in London, a place which is very much associated with Nancy Mitford, who had once worked there in the early 1940s.
Although this is a fictional story it is very much based on the known facts about this charismatic writer whose chaotic personal circumstances come to life in the time when England was on the cusp of war, and when the rise of the fascist movement and the social and political unrest threaten European peace. As much as I enjoyed reading the historical aspect, I was equally at home with Lucy as she sets about discovering as much as she can about Nancy, a woman she greatly admires, and the connection which links them together.
I do enjoy a book about books and The Mayfair Bookshop certainly features an abundance, cleverly combining history with a cleverly put together mystery in this legendary Mayfair bookshop. Nicely written and well researched the author brings all the strands of the story together in fascinating account of an unusual and talented writer.
🍷Best read with...a glass of sparkling champagne
About the Author
Eliza Knight is an award-winning and USA Today bestselling author. Her love of history began as a young girl when she traipsed the halls of Versailles. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Novelists, Inc., and the creator of the popular historical blog, History Undressed. Knight lives in Maryland with her husband, three daughters, two dogs and a turtle.
Twitter @ElizaKnight #TheMayfairBookshop