A Bookshop of One’s Own; a powerful memoir

What initially struck me with A Bookshop of One’s Own is it’s beautiful cover. I first came across this memoir on BookTwitter. At the time I didn’t know anything about the book, nor anything of the phenomenal history of the Silver Moon Bookshop, or the pioneering women behind it (which unbeknown to me, have had an impact on my life as a reader and as a woman).

It was only a couple of days after I first saw A Bookshop of One’s Own on X, formally known as Twitter that I was invited to the blog tour of this poignant, funny and engaging socially historical memoir by Jane Cholmeley. As my curiosity had already been ignited, I jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour. And I am so glad I did as not only have I been struck by the beauty of the cover, but I’ve also been struck by the vivid, thought-provoking and empowering narrative inside.

Ever since I can remember I have been attracted to books written by women. I assume it is because I am a woman. I recall vividly at the age of 17 where I was when I first started reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker, a book that deeply moved me, and is referred to on numerous occasions throughout this memoir. During the mid 90s I studied English at University. I remember being given the opportunity of taking a Women’s Literature module, which I grasped eagerly as I was so excited to study The Color Purple. I loved taking that Women’s Literature module. However I just took it for granted that as an English student I was studying a module in Women’s Literature. It is only now from reading A Bookshop of One’s Own that I have come to realise that just over a decade before studying my degree there was a horrendous amount of misogyny in the publishing world. It is shocking to think that even though women account for the majority of the reading population, feminist literature was viewed as a ‘passing fad.’ I have discovered this shocking revelation from reading Jane Cholmeley’s memoir, which is a touching love letter to the Silver Moon Bookshop. For this reason and many others, A Bookshop of One’s Own has moved me just as much as The Color Purple did. I feel that without this group of pioneering women including Jane Cholmeley, I would never have been given the chance to study women’s literature as I did.

Located on London’s Charing Cross Road, Silver Moon was the dream of three tenacious women who were determined to open up a space to promote the work of female writers, as well as create a safe space for women. In the midst of the harsh political climate of the 1980s and against a backdrop of misogyny and homophobia, Jane Cholmeley, along with her partner Sue Butterworth and their friend Jane Anger founded Silver Moon. Over the next twenty years, the shop grew to be Europe’s biggest women’s bookshop.

Jane Cholmeley

A Bookshop of One’s Own relates the unbelievable struggles the women booksellers encountered to achieve this dream. As well as misogyny, they also experienced homophobia and hate crime. It is a frank, honest and enlightening narrative as it relates their internal power struggles, and the challenges they faced aligning their dream and beliefs with the world of commerce. It is also funny and warm, especially when Jane admits her ignorance with regards to George Elliot.

I found this memoir so moving and interesting for a variety of reasons. For example, it tells the story of the origins of Women’s Prize for Fiction which really impacted me. Jane as the author also tells of the shop’s many customers including a Spice Girl; former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Labour politician, Denis Healey; and Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys. It is beautiful and powerful as it showcases the power of women , of allies, and of community.

Thank you to Jane Cholmeley for your beautiful, personal account which as a women reader, I found inspiring and educational. Thank you also to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of A Bookshop of One’s Own.

To follow the blog tour, please see below.

A Bookshop of One’s Own was published on 29 February 2024 by Mudlark / Harper Collins.

1 Comment

  1. March 20, 2024 / 10:36 am

    Thanks for the blog tour support x

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