Radio Girls

Stratford, Sarah-Jane

  34 Reviews

Just in the nick of time, almost down-and-out Maisie Musgrave is appointed as a secretary at the newly established British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC. These are exciting times, the 1920s, and the advent of the new technology of radio coincides with new opportunities for women. Under the mentorship of her boss Hilda Matheson, Maisie is able to aspire to a career, even as political forces continue to conspire against such lofty ambition.

Explicitly based on many real events and people, this is a fascinating story of the early days of radio and the changing world tuning into its airwaves. [Larger font]



AUCK 071
All interested in the political background and early days of BBC radio, but found it rather slow in places. Weaving real characters into a fictional background was well done, but the fictional characters were not so well drawn.
UPMO 002
Interesting and informative read.
ASHH 001
Everyone enjoyed the content of this book, particularly the role of Hilda Matheson in the fledgling BBC, plus many of the themes of that time. Less enamoured with the sometimes clunky writing style and plot devices. Generally encouraged more reading and research.
ROTO 006
The story was a bit slow in the beginning but a lot more interesting by the end. Very good group discussion on working women ( and pay) up to the present day.
WELL 086
Enjoyable story. Did drag a bit in places.
AUCK 277
This book was not highly rated by our group. One member said that once she realised that real people were portrayed, she had more interest in it. One member felt the author had such fascinating background material to work with, the story should have been more gripping. The writing let the story down - shades of Mills & Boon Interesting portrayal of chauvinistic attitudes of men of the time. I think it could make an amazing movie! (Given a good script-writer).
Interesting historical context.
WELL 016
Members enjoyed the historical aspects the most, but were not wholly convinced by the plot, characters and style.
AUCK 335
An easy and enjoyable read which gave a very interesting picture of life at the time, especially for women, and of the BBC as it developed. Huge changes in both since then!
CHCH 043
Enjoyed by all the group. Surprising amount of fact contained in an outer layer of fiction.
An interesting look back at History.
Radio Girls was generally enjoyed for its historical interest. The beginnings of the BBC in the 1920s, women's rights, the treatment of homosexuals, real life characters captured our interest. The writing is rather flat, but readable, and the fictional characters and events seem to belong in a different genre altogether - Maisie's adventures with MI5 are entertaining but challenge belief. The real-life character of Hilda Matheson was someone we had not heard of before, and aroused much interest.
CHCH 155
An interesting view of early BBC with great insight to programming and the challenges of the day. Women's struggles to contribute and educate in the freedom to vote.
AUCK 014
Lightweight but informative.
AUCK 256
Semi enjoyed this book. Interesting history of the BBC and their more proactive stance towards women in employment after marriage. Great that times have changed. Some of the characters were based on real people, particularly Hilda - great to research her afterwards.
Everyone enjoyed the book. Interesting themes of 'women working' and men's attitude to women, which we were able to relate to as some of us have experienced such prejudice! We thought it was very well-written and very 'real'.
A fascinating insight into the development of the British wireless and its programming, made more interesting with the inclusion of real personalities of the time. Although a work of fiction the story developed in line with Maisie's character. While much happened in this historical era, the inclusion rounded out the setting and gave focus to the cloak and dagger incidents. Interesting to speculate that the Reith lectures on today's radio broadcasts have a connection to Sir John!
NEWP 001
We felt it would be better as non-fiction, as the history was very interesting and what really held it together. The writing was a bit pedestrian and the story not always credible. Unfortunately the beginning of the depression was glossed over.
CHCH 194
The book was a really easy history lesson! The social commentary of England at that time held the interest.
AUCK 414
Mostly people loved this book, and what it told us about women in the 1930s, the BBC beginnings, and the lead up to WWII.
Not gripping - an ok book only.
Half enjoyed it and were interested from a historical point of view. The other half didn't even finish, as felt the style of writing was too old-fashioned and the characters weak.
AUCK 279
Really good to learn about the beginnings of the BBC and to reflect on what life was like for women of that time.
Generally our group found the history of the BBC, the characters of Reith, Hilda, Vita and Lady Astor interesting. We discussed the changing role of women and class structure in UK. But we didn't think it was particularly well written, the fictional characters undeveloped and unappealing, the 'mystery' story unbelievable, and several anachronisms - MI5 was known as the Security Service until the 1930s, Maisie's camera would have had no flash for her photos of files/papers...
We all enjoyed the book and found it an easy read (perfect for Stage 4 Lockdown!). We found the history of the BBC and the exploration of the social mores of the period, gender roles, inter-war politics, all very interesting. The characters based on real people were well drawn, Hilda in particular was a fascinating person and several of us were drawn to research more about her. The fictional characters we generally found quite weak, and Maisie's transformation not totally credible, but it didn't spoil our enjoyment of the book.
Our group enjoyed this story.
We found the history of the BBC very interesting. The main character was very believable, and it was a good read.
WELL 064
Interesting book but weak main character.
HAST 006
Took a while to get into the story. Historically interesting, and technically researched. Most of the group thought it was overly detailed and lacked an exciting plot.
ASHB 003
All enjoyed the book, the historical aspect and people. The historical aspect of the book was well-written and reflected the times.
WELL 213
Radio Girls received a mixed reception from our group, but the book provoked much discussion. Several enjoyed the blend of fact and fiction while others thought it clumsily executed. Lord Reith was described as an arch conservative in the book especially on gender issues, but the BBC, his creation, has withstood the test of time and even then it was embracing the employment of women in senior roles. The other males in the book also seemed to be portrayed in a rather dismissive way. Hilda was a glowingly alive character, and some members also enjoyed the character of Maisie.
This was a beautifully written, delightful book - with the added interest of the BBC history. We all loved this and remembered days when we were called 'Miss....'- no Christian names in the workforce - even in the 50s!
AUCK 208
Loved it. Best book this year. Enjoyed the historical content, and liked the way Maisie found out about her father. Everyone in our group enjoyed the book.
We had a really good discussion, and I have settled on a 4 star rating, as a couple were unimpressed. Others just loved 'Radio Girls', especially the BBC history and the evocation of the time; we knew what they wore and ate, of privations and prominent people, of values and social expectations. We enjoyed Maisie's growth and development,and got into some discussion of NZ in recent decades, especially in relation to paternalism and expectations for women.