Author: Sarah-Jane Stratford
Publication Date: June 14th, 2016
Synopsis: 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 read a lot of young adult fiction, so Radio Girls really changed things around for me. Let me start off by noting that this is not a young adult fiction novel, but I believe that it can really be enjoyed by the YA community anyway, despite being geared more toward adults. If you enjoy historical fiction, then I wouldn’t miss out on this one, because it’s a wonderful read.
When I first heard about Radio Girls, I was really looking forward to picking up this book. I have such a love for historical fiction, so I thought this sounded like the type of book that would completely draw me in and leave me really happy with the book afterward. Not only did this book really engage me from the beginning, but it was so well written that it deserves a high amount of praise (and reads!).
Radio Girls was like a history lesson that you didn’t want to end. I didn’t know about some of the topics in the book, such as how the BBC began – so I was delighted to learn about that. It also offered a feeling of empowerment for women, which it seems like something is often overlooked in history, so it was definitely a book to pick up if you like that sort of thing, as well.
The novel starts off in the window of time after WWI and before WWII, and our main character, Maisie has gotten a job as a secretary at the BBC, right in its beginning days. Not only do we get to learn about the beginning of the BBC, but I can’t imagine a more perfect character than Maisie for the part – she is strong-willed, independent, and knows what she wants. While she does feel a little intimidated by the new technology, other secretaries, bosses, and assignments that seem a bit daunting for her, she is more than willing to push through those insecurities she might have and keep working there, which is admirable – she doesn’t give up.
Maisie does find herself tied up in a big scandal/conspiracy, and while I think the novel does take a little bit of time to work up to it, the reveal is a bit shocking and really adds to the book.
I don’t want to ruin anything for fellow readers, so I’m being vague here on purpose. This is one of those books that you should just pick up and check out, because it’s just that good.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
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.