I was anxious to read “Radio Girls” by Sarah-Jane Stratford and I was not disappointed. The novel is based on the birth and first years of the BBC, the British Broadcasting Company. This is an historical novel, but the contents depict the current times in England. The BBC began in 1923 after the First World War. Broadcasting the news was forbidden to the BBC at this time so as not to interfere with the newspapers. There are so many stories that could be written about this time in the history of communication.
This novel focuses on some of the women and their roles in the fledgling company. The rigors of trying to find acceptable programming that would pass the inspection of the company board of directors, the challenges of presenting sound effects that would enhance the listeners’ enjoyment of the program, and the constant fight for influence among the broadcasters and programmers was a goldmine of stories for the right author. I enjoyed this novel very much and recommend it to those interested in the early history of communication. The fictional aspect of the book added interest to the historical text of the book.
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.