By: Sarah-Jane Stratford
Published Year: 2016
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I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion of this book.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.
This cover is gorgeous! It is so pretty and immediately made me want to read the summary. I wasn’t as intrigued by the summary as I was the cover, but it still sounded really interesting and different from what I’ve been reading lately.
What I thought
This book was definitely interesting!
Maisie is a young woman in the mid-1920s who is looking for work. She gets a job at the BBC as a secretary in the company’s infancy. She works under the Director General and Hilda Matheson who is the Director of the Talks department (the department that puts together different Talk segments on different topics). Soon, as a modern woman, she realizes that she would really like to work solely for Hilda and begins doing so. This story follows Maisie as she figures out whom she is in this new world and accidentally discovers information about the Fascists of Britain prior to World War 2.
What I found so interesting about this book was the different opinions on women in the mid-1920s-early 1930s. When Maisie first starts working for the BBC, her goal is to work there long enough to find a husband and then quit. She views Hilda as odd and couldn’t understand why a woman would even want to be in such a high position. While I expected this opinion from the men in the story, I was surprised that some women didn’t believe in the power of other women.
It was also fascinating to see Maisie grow over time. She really changed as a person and it was fun to follow her on her journey from a Mousey girl who wasn’t even sure who she was or if she wanted to work to someone who is confident in whom they are and love what they do. Maisie wasn’t my favorite person when the story started, so I was glad to see that she grew and matured.
Another interesting part of the book is that Hilda Matheson and other main characters in this story were real people! I didn’t expect that this book was going to use real people for characters. Hilda Matheson is a fascinating individual and even though this story involving her is completely fictional, you can tell that the author did her research on the person and she is true to character. I am fascinated by Matheson as a strong working woman in a time that this was so rare. I with this was someone that more women knew about.
One of the issues that I had with this book was the timeline. I will preface this by saying that I was reading an ebook ARC, so it very much could have been due to the format in which I was reading the book. I found that a lot of the time there were these time jumps that seemed to come out of nowhere, especially at the beginning of the story. When Maisie started working at the BBC, a lot happened and I assumed it was all within the first month of her being there. Then it mentions that it’s 6 months or a year later and I was so confused. There was nothing to indicate that that much time had passed. This happened a few times within the story and it always threw me off. The book does span 1926-1932, but I didn’t see any definition between the years. Whenever moments like that happened, I was a bit thrown off and taken out of the story.
By: Sarah-Jane Stratford