The Radcliffe Ladies’ Reading Club [Book Review] #NetGalley @SourceBooks #SourceBooksLandmark #HistoricalFiction #WomensFiction

The Radcliffe Ladies’ Reading Club by Julia Bryan Thomas is a book about books, sisterhood, college life, and friendship.

The Radcliffe Ladies’ Reading Club by Julia Bryan Thomas

The Radcliffe Ladies' Reading Club by Julia Bryan Thomas (cover) Image: white text on a black text box on a red painted bookshop door

Genre/Categories/Setting: Women’s Fiction set in the past (1950s), Books About Books, Coming of Age, Massachusetts (Cambridge), Campus Novel

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My Summary of Radcliffe Ladies’ Reading Club:

Thanks #NetGalley @BerkleyPub @SourceBooks #SourceBooksLandmark for a complimentary e ARC of #TheRadcliffeLadiesReadingClub upon my request. All opinions are my own.

It’s 1954 and broken-hearted Alice Campbell turns a rundown building on a cobblestone street in Cambridge into a charming bookshop. She loves books and knows their power and ability to comfort. She invites a few nearby young college students to form a book club. Alice, Tess, Caroline, Evie, and Merritt form a deep friendship and support system as they discuss books and life issues.

My Thoughts:


Each young woman has a unique background and life expectations. It required some time for me to find them all likable. I applaud the author for changing my mind. The story focuses on the four members of the book club and I would have liked more character development for Alice, bookstore owner and mentor. Although a small group is lovely, I keep wondering why the book club didn’t grow and why the owner stopped promoting it after acquiring four members. It seems like there might be more interest in this academic environment. However, there is a concern about overwhelming the story with too many characters and issues. I would have loved a few upstanding and supportive male side characters as well.

A Safe Place

One of the most powerful themes in the story is sisterhood. We don’t all have to come from the same background or have the same experiences or think the same way to form a bond. I always love a women-supporting-women trope.

I appreciate the book club as a safe place for these young adult women. If you are in a book club, do you enjoy a sense of safety there?


Despite the sisterhood, supportive and welcoming environment, and cozy atmosphere of the bookshop, there are tragic and serious themes in the story.

A Book About Books

If you love books about books, you might love the bookish discussions around specific classic books throughout the story! Alice curates her book list carefully and with a purpose in mind for this book club. This is especially meaningful if you’ve also read these books (but not necessary).

Recommending The Radcliffe Ladies’ Book Club

If you you are OK with some dfficult content and love women’s fiction, books about books, and themes of sisterhood and friendship, you might enjoy The Radcliffe Ladies’ Book Club. It’s also highly discussable for book clubs.

Content Consideration: Rape, unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage, suicidal thoughts

My Rating:  4  Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Meet the Author of The Radcliffe Ladies’ Reading Club by Julia Bryan Thomas

Author of Radcliffe Ladies' Reading Club, Julia Bryan Thomas

Julia Bryan Thomas is the author of For Those Who Are Lost (2022) and The Radcliffe Ladies’ Reading Club (2023). She is married to mystery novelist Will Thomas.


Is this new release on your TBR or have you read it?

Happy Reading Book Friends!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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I purchase or borrow from the library all books I review unless explicitly stated that the book is free (arc)

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  1. I was offered the ARC for this but my reading list was SO full already, I had to turn it down. Sounds like it might have been a slightly difficult read, though.

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