Book Review: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner

Posted May 25, 2024 by meezcarrie in Book Review, clean, historical, Natalie Jenner / 0 Comments

Every Time We Say Goodbye book review

Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie JennerEVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE by Natalie Jenner
Jane Austen Society #3

GENRE: Historical Fiction (Closed Door with mild language)
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press
RELEASE DATE: May 14, 2024
PAGES: 330

The bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls returns with a brilliant novel of love and art, of grief and memory, of confronting the past and facing the future.

In 1955, Vivien Lowry is facing the greatest challenge of her life. Her latest play, the only female-authored play on the London stage that season, has opened in the West End to rapturous applause from the audience. The reviewers, however, are not as impressed as the playgoers and their savage notices not only shut down the play but ruin Lowry’s last chance for a dramatic career. With her future in London not looking bright, at the suggestion of her friend, Peggy Guggenheim, Vivien takes a job in as a script doctor on a major film shooting in Rome’s Cinecitta Studios. There she finds a vibrant movie making scene filled with rising stars, acclaimed directors, and famous actors in a country that is torn between its past and its potentially bright future, between the liberation of the post-war cinema and the restrictions of the Catholic Church that permeates the very soul of Italy.

As Vivien tries to forge a new future for herself, she also must face the long-buried truth of the recent World War and the mystery of what really happened to her deceased fiancé. Every Time We Say Goodbye is a brilliant exploration of trauma and tragedy, hope and renewal, filled with dazzling characters both real and imaginary, from the incomparable author who charmed the world with her novels The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls.


Other Books In This Series


“Who knew making movies could be such a blood sport?”

I first met Vivien Lowry in Bloomsbury Girls and found her to be equal parts tragic and vibrant as a character, so I was very intrigued by what kind of journey Natalie Jenner would take her on in Every Time We Say Goodbye. (Note: it’s not necessary to have read the other books in this series to follow this third book. It works just fine as a standalone, though some of its references to the other books may have you bumping them up to the top of your TBR list!

There are several plot threads that weave through the pages of Every Time We Say Goodbye, spanning a variety of personalities across two timelines a little more than ten years apart, and presenting readers with a profound study in contrasts. On the one hand you have the glitz and glory of the Italian film industry, ushered into its heyday as American directors, actors, writers, etc fled the fear-mongering of the McCarthy era for the freedom found in Italy. Freedom from the anti-Communist witch hunts, though, came with strings attached – strings held by the Vatican who kept tight control over what could & couldn’t be portrayed in movies (more than one very weighty & timeless contrast there). And then there are the WW2 Italian resistance fighters, the refugees of war, the soldiers haunted by images they can’t forget, and the families left without answers. A world away from the film industry in many respects and inseparable from it in others. I loved these contrasts – and others – that Jenner captures so vividly, and I often caught myself thinking about the poetry of them as I read this moving story.

I enjoyed seeing famed film stars of the day like a young Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, and Gina Lollobrigida as ‘regular’ people (while still being set apart… another contrast) and getting an inside look at the workings of a movie studio in the 1950s in post-war Italy. But really this is just the canvas on which Jenner paints a poignant picture of grief, love, faith, and friendship -the means that connects the main players whose paths otherwise would not have crossed. The real story in Every Time We Say Goodbye is of brave women who dare to do courageous things. Whether they gave up their life, their love, their child, their career, their dreams, or even their regrets, I was fascinated by these vibrant characters who dared to do what was right for the sake of more than just themselves. This, to me, is the strength of Jenner’s latest novel and what kept me turning the pages.

Bottom Line: Nothing about Every Time We Say Goodbye played out the way I expected it to but the story ended up being so much more meaningful because of the unexpected turns it took. As with the other book I have read by Natalie Jenner, I closed this one with a deep sense of thoughtfulness, pondering the lessons can be gleaned as well as their continued relevance. I enjoyed reacquainting myself with Vivien and other familiar faces from Bloomsbury Girls, and I equally enjoyed the parade of new personalities that Vivien encounters in the world of Italian cinema. Some parts of the novel dragged a bit in the middle, in my opinion, overladen with more telling than showing, but not so much that I lost interest in the overall story. Mainly due to the fascinating profile of the young, female assassin for the Italian Resistance – it  completely captivated me, and I loved the way that Jenner intersects this character with Vivien’s story too. Another meticulously researched and immersive novel from a rising star in historical fiction.

Reviewer’s Note: Readers of this blog may want to be aware that there is some occasional, mild cursing (plus one profanity), innuendo, and non-explicit closed-door implications of extra-marital intimacies.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / enjoyed it!

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Natalie Jenner

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.

What about you? What makes you want to read Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner?

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