Writer: Sarah-Jane Stratford
Plot: 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 really felt like buying a brand new book one day. So I walked into W.H. Smith and picked one up that took my fancy.
Radio Girls sparked my interest because it was based in the twenties and was about radio. I studied radio at uni and loved it, but never had the confidence to pursue it (instead, I turned to voiceovers, which is more up my street).
I could easily identify with the protagonist who was a young woman starting her first proper job. She is immediately intimidated by the bosses, but she soon gets the hang of her job as the secretary and begins to get involved with the Talks radio programme.
Soon, she discovers a conspiracy. I’m not sure if it was my lack of intelligence, lack of knowledge of the era or the way that it was written, but I found it difficult to get a grip of what the entirety of the conspiracy was. Nevertheless, I understood enough of it to feel the weight of the situation.
While Maisie is getting mixed up with a huge cover-up, she also meets a man. I enjoyed the relationship side of the book so much that I realised that I must read a romance, and consequently discovered One Hot Summer by Kat French. (Which I still daydream about today.)
I enjoyed the parallel of the romance and the radio. Particularly because it echoed the struggle of balancing a career and a family, but also because the proximity of the love story and the serious mystery begin to intertwine…
If you love journalism, radio, 1920s fashion and a touch of romance, please read Radio Girls.
While it’s not a ground-breaking story, it’s pleasant enough.
Jodie’s rating: 6/10