At long last, I finished reading this long, long novel. I bought it for the cover and the subject. The historical details are interesting but the title and the prologue are misleading. Real-life people from history show up in the story, which is told from the POV of fictional Plain Jane who morphs, over the years, into a confident journalist, a modern woman in a world where men still oppose giving women the right to vote. The jubilation of women in 1930 gaining suffrage is something women today should be reminded of before they decide “why bother” exercising their right to cast a ballot. I could excerpt passages from the book (as I usually do in reviews) but I’m exhausted from the long read. It took forever to get Maise through her job interview, and I lost count of how many times we hear that she was born in Canada and lived in New York City for a while with her negligent mother, an actress. Shoes and wool dresses. Food. The landlady who won’t allow her tenants a radio. It’s hard to believe this novel was professionally edited by a Brick House publisher, it’s so bloated with extraneous or repeated details, yet not one radio is described – my husband has a passion for old wooden radios. Three knobs, not one, had to be turned to tune the first radios. The black horns, the glow of the dial, the static, the sound – none of the magic of the wireless is brought to life here – just the people working at the BBC and their staff meetings and such. This novel could be cut in half and it’d still be too long for me. A pity, given the fantastic subject.
Next on my To-Read-and-Review List via NetGalley
Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford coming 14 Jun 2016 from Berkley Publishing Group Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)
London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity.Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be. Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living.
“Sarah-Jane Stratford’s Radio Girls is an achievement of historical fiction so believable that you’ll wonder if the author has access to a time machine. Maisie’s trajectory—from mousey, fearful underling into assertive, independent powerhouse—mirrors that of the nascent BBC for which she works. The promise of post-war prosperity and the looming threat of fascism make for an engrossing background against which Maisie finds herself involved in international intrigue and national rights movements which will make the reader turn the pages frantically, utterly enthralled until the very end. By turns funny and fascinating, Radio Girls is a triumph.”—Allison Amend, Author of Enchanted Islands
“Radio Girls carries readers on a memorable, eye-opening journey to London in the 1920s and ’30s, a pivotal time in the history of women’s rights, politics, and the arts. Sarah-Jane Stratford’s storytelling skills are on vivid display throughout, and the strong, believable, and immensely human Maisie Musgrave is the best imaginable guide to that vanished time and place.”—Joseph Wallace, Author ofSlavemakers
About the Author