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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Radio Girls" by Sarah-Jane Stratford

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Radio Girls" by Sarah-Jane Stratford

  1. Historical Context: How does the novel capture the atmosphere and societal changes of 1920s London, particularly in relation to women's rights, technological advancements, and the rise of broadcasting? What aspects of the era surprised you or stood out the most?

  2. Character Development: Analyze the character of Maisie Musgrave. How does her background as a war widow shape her ambitions and motivations? How does her character evolve throughout the novel, particularly in her role at the BBC?

  3. Gender and Power: Explore the theme of gender and power dynamics in the novel. How do female characters like Maisie navigate a male-dominated industry, and what obstacles do they face in asserting themselves professionally? How do they challenge or conform to societal expectations of women in the 1920s?

  4. The Birth of Broadcasting: Discuss the significance of the BBC and the emergence of radio broadcasting as a powerful medium for communication and entertainment. How does the novel portray the impact of radio on society and culture during this period?

  5. Political and Social Issues: The novel touches on various political and social issues of the time, including class disparities, fascism, and women's suffrage. How do these issues intersect with the characters' lives and the events of the plot? How does the radio serve as a platform for social change and political activism?

  6. Friendship and Collaboration: Maisie forms a close friendship with Hilda Matheson, a pioneering BBC producer. How does their friendship influence Maisie's personal and professional growth? Discuss the importance of collaboration and mentorship in achieving success.

  7. Identity and Authenticity: Maisie grapples with questions of identity and authenticity, particularly in relation to her past and her aspirations for the future. How does she reconcile her desire to move forward with her need to confront her past? How do other characters navigate similar struggles with identity?

  8. Ethics in Journalism: The novel explores ethical dilemmas faced by journalists and broadcasters, particularly in balancing the need for truth and accuracy with the pressures of entertainment and propaganda. Discuss instances in the novel where characters grapple with ethical decisions in their work at the BBC.

  9. Technological Advancements: How do technological advancements, such as the development of radio technology and the introduction of new broadcasting techniques, shape the narrative of the novel? How do characters adapt to these changes, and what impact do they have on the industry?

  10. Representation and Diversity: The novel features characters from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants and members of the LGBTQ+ community. How does the novel handle issues of representation and diversity in 1920s London? What commentary does it offer on inclusivity and acceptance during this period?

  11. The Power of Storytelling: Discuss the role of storytelling and narrative in the novel, both in the context of Maisie's work at the BBC and in her personal life. How do characters use storytelling as a means of connection, persuasion, and empowerment?

  12. Legacy and Impact: Reflect on the legacy of Maisie and the other characters in the novel. How do their contributions to broadcasting and journalism shape the future of the industry, and what lasting impact do they leave on society?

Early Life and Education: Sarah-Jane Stratford was born and raised in California, United States. She developed a passion for literature and history from a young age, which would later influence her writing career.

She attended college in California, where she studied English literature and creative writing. Her academic background in literature and her love for historical research laid the foundation for her future career as a novelist.

Literary Career: Sarah-Jane Stratford is the author of several historical fiction novels that explore lesser-known stories from the past. She is known for her meticulous research and vivid storytelling, bringing to life characters and events from history.

Her debut novel, "Radio Girls" (2016), is set in 1920s London and follows the story of Maisie Musgrave as she navigates the world of broadcasting at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The novel received critical acclaim for its rich historical detail and compelling narrative.

In addition to "Radio Girls," Sarah-Jane Stratford has written other novels and works of historical fiction. Her other notable works include "Red Letter Days" (2019), which explores the lives of women working in the film industry during the McCarthy era in Hollywood.

Personal Life: Sarah-Jane Stratford currently resides in California, where she continues to write and pursue her passion for historical research and storytelling. In addition to her writing career, she is also involved in promoting literacy and historical awareness through her work.

Sarah-Jane Stratford's novels are characterized by their immersive historical settings, strong female protagonists, and exploration of lesser-known stories from the past. She has established herself as a talented voice in the genre of historical fiction, captivating readers with her vivid portrayals of history and the human experience.


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