Feminist Friday: Radio Girls

Hello and welcome to my second ‘Feminist Friday’ post. On the second Friday of each month, I share an inspiring feminist themed read with you guys 🙂 If you missed out on my first ‘Feminist Friday’ then check out my blog home page at MegReadz to read about my January choice; ‘The Life & Loves of E. Nesbit’.

This month I have chosen something probably not initially associated with this category from the outside, however from within, it very much is! So excited to share with you ‘Radio Girls’ by Sarah-Jane Stratford. I love period-set fiction based on fact and especially if it involves strong, courageous, passionate and inspirational women characters – and this one was no exception.

I read this book just before Christmas and could not put it down! In fact, I actually bought it as a Christmas present for my Gran…….and…….well……..ya’ know – it just looked so good I had to check it out to make sure! We both loved ‘Dear Mrs Bird’ by A.J. Pearce so I thought this would be right up her street – and mine 😉 You can picture me, up until the small hours, madly reading to finish it the night before so I could find out what happens…..and wrap it – obviously! Honestly – what am I like?!

Anyway, onto the book! Britain is rallying after the shock of the First World War. Women are reluctant to submit to their ‘domestic’ stereotypes, having proved that they are capable of so much more than that, and tensions are stirring in the workplace as tradition is confronted with pioneering new ideas of the time. Maisie is alone in London and in desperate need of a job to pay her rent. Trained in shorthand and typing she applies for a job as a secretary at the BBC. Dreaming of a happy marriage to a wealthy gentleman, Maisie convinces herself that this job will only be short term, just until she can find someone to whisk her away and provide the security and love she missed out on as a child. However, that is until she meets Hilda Matheson, Producer/Head of Talks at the BBC. Hilda’s infectious passion for her job begins to rub off on Maisie and she becomes ever more involved in Hilda’s mission to use the radio as a means of connecting and educating the listeners; promoting radical new ideas and raising the voices of women in particular.

As Maisie finds her own place within the BBC, she begins to uncover her own ideas, buried beneath generations of traditional opinions. She realises that her own ideas line up with Hilda’s more than she ever thought possible. Together they push boundaries, break down barriers and demand a platform for women’s voices to be heard.

I absolutely loved the spirit and passion of the writing. Sarah’s characters’ are bursting with personality and drive. The evolution of Maisie’s character is perhaps one of the most well written threads. She represents the dawning of new ideas – a new generation. Ordinary women making a stand. Ordinary women recognising their worth, holding their ground and demanding respect for their ideas and abilities. Sarah perfectly captures the modern spirit of the 1920’s and the radical shifting of the tide against the old patriarchal systems. Maisie’s character is flawed, all inspiring ones are, and it is this element that makes her so easy to connect with. We join her in her journey of self discovery and learn from other strong characters in the novel through her eyes. In addition to this her worth ethic and drive, often against all odds, are things that particularly inspired me. The romantic thread of the narrative – following Maisie in her journey of self-discovery (as it were) – is beautifully told. The message here being the importance of standing up for yourself – following your heart but remaining clear sighted, when its right to say no and not letting anyone walk all over you – which is as relevant a message now. Her personal growth comes beautifully full circle in conjunction with the evolution of the story.

I feel that ‘Radio Girls’ was a particularly relevant choice, as we stand on the brink of the next roaring ’20’s’, one-hundred years later. Perhaps as politically charged now as then, with pioneering thoughts and new movements shifting the ground beneath our feet. It’s a timely reminder that although we have come so far (look at the restrictions on women in the 1920’s – it makes my blood boil!) we still have a long way to go.

Thanks for reading! Go read ‘Radio Girls’ if you havn’t already and don’t forget to follow ‘Meg Readz’ for more Feminist Friday posts 🙂

Meg Readz xxx

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