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  • Writer's pictureSelena | Beauty's Library

Every Time We Say Goodbye Review

Rating: 4/5

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.


I received a free copy of Every Time We Say Goodbye through Austenprose PR for a book tour. Thank you so much for this opportunity!

After Jenner’s previous book, Bloomsbury Girls I was excited to pick this one up, as I truly enjoyed Bloomsbury Girls. Every Time We Say Goodbye does occur after the events that we read in Bloomsbury Girls, though I wouldn’t say it's necessary to have read that before picking this one up. However, it might make things clearer at the very beginning of this book, before our main character, Vivien leaves for Italy, a character we met prior within Bloomsbury Girls. But despite knowing I had already met her, I appreciated that we still get refreshed on her backstory as we make our through this story, especially since it’s been a while since I’ve read the previous book. 

This was admittedly a harder one to get fully invested in as it was slower-paced than I was expecting. However, once I was invested, I didn’t want to put it down. I loved the descriptions around the Cinecitta Studios and the film industry as well as within Italian society in the 1950s. It was interesting to see how Italy came back to life following the war as well seeing how society worked with the Catholic Church and the power it held for those in Italy. It was an area of history I knew very little about and made for a unique and interesting read.

My favorite parts were these short flashbacks to during the war, especially as we follow this girl known as the “schoolgirl assassin” who helps in resistance against the nazis during the war. As much as I loved the drama that unfolded within the film industry, these were so captivating to read. I wanted to learn how they connected with Vivien and our current timeline.

I found this to be a beautifully written story set around Italy in the 1950s that shares a glimpse the life after the war and the prospering film industry that was practically destroyed during the war. I’m a sucker for art and this was a unique read that I thoroughly enjoyed as I got to learn more about the old film industry. I highly recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction books set around old-style films and WWII. 


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