Thursday, June 30, 2016

*Review* Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 14, 2016
Pages: 384


The Great War is over, and change is in the air, in this novel that brings to life the exciting days of early British radio…and one woman who finds her voice while working alongside the brilliant women and men of the BBC. 

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.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

This book had an Agent Carter feeling to it for me, which is kind of weird because the main characters were not officially secret agents. They were just a couple of women working at the BBC in its infancy, at a time when women could be let go for getting married. I found the social aspect of the story intriguing but infuriating. It was less than 100 years ago and women were only allowed to hold a few select jobs, and once they were married they were out the door to care for their husbands and homes. My feminist head was practically exploding.

I absolutely adored Hilda. Everything she did to help draw Maisie out of her shell and help her become the amazing, confident woman she never knew she could be was really heartwarming. Every time something good happened for Maisie because of Hilda (or at least with Hilda's subtle pushes), I cheered a little. 

The final highlight for this book for me, is that the mystery involved in the story relates directly to the rise of the Nazi party and the build up to WWII, and I've always been fascinated by WWII, so even reading a fictional account of events that may have led to it, was interesting for me. I noticed many parallels to politics today, which frightens me. 

5 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Sarah-Jane Stratford grew up in Los Angeles with a deep love of theatre and literature. After earning a bachelor's degree in history at UC Santa Cruz, she then obtained a master's degree in medieval history at the University of York in England, where she wrote a thesis about women in the manorial court system which gave her a new appreciation for the modern era.

On moving to New York, she wrote her first two novels, The Midnight Guardian and The Moonlight Brigade (St Martins Press). She has also written articles and essays for a range of publications, including The Guardian, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Marie-Claire, Bitch, Slate, Salon, Guernica, and BOMB.

In addition to theatre and activism, Sarah-Jane enjoys knitting (when the project is submitting to her will) and wandering around interesting places.


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