Girls on the Line

Girls on the Line

Girls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyan (Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction)

Good historical fiction informs as well as entertains. Girls on the Line does a great job of both as it takes us into the lives of young women who served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War I.

While books about World War II abound, not a lot of present-day fiction is set during the Great War. As the author notes, modern-day Europeans are much more aware of the first world war than Americans are. But 100 years ago, Americans — both men and women — were deployed to Europe to fight “the Hun.” Among those individuals were female switchboard operators who volunteered to serve on the front lines connecting the troops with their commanding officers via telephone.

Runyan has done a lot of research, including reading the diaries of women who served in the signal corps. Her story is rich with details as well as nicely developed characters whose fates we become invested in. We see independent young women struggle with the misogyny and paternalism of the era, including the arranged marriages common among high-society families, and we witness the deplorable lack of recognition for the heroism of the “Hello Girls” as the operators were called, when the war ends.

Five stars.

This reviewer received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an independent review.

Girls on the Line will be released on November 6, 2018, and is available for pre-order.

 

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South of Main Street

South of Main Street

South of Main Street by Robert Gately (Contemporary Fiction)

In the fictitious town of Coalsville, Pennsylvania, Main Street divides the “haves” from the “have-nots.” The wealthy, like recently widowed Henry Wolff, live north of Main Street. But Henry is not your typical rich guy. The money came from his wife, and now his younger daughter wants him declared incapable of handling his own affairs in order to keep him from squandering her inheritance.

While this may sound like a dire novel of family feuding, it’s actually more of a Forrest Gump-like story. Henry suffers from a form of post-war PTSD that has him acting childish. His is a simple view of life that he shares with the troubled people he meets, including a boy with an absent mother and abusive father, a young female drug addict, and two homeless people. We watch him interact with people from both sides of Main Street in ways that are wise and compassionate but can be misconstrued as incompetent, if that is one’s goal. Fortunately for Henry, his elder daughter is willing to take on her sister in court.

This is a relatively slow-going book with a predictable ending, but that doesn’t stop it from being a worthwhile, feel-good read. It does contain some minor mistakes that would benefit from a good editing, such as the occasional change in tense from past to present and use of a wrong word. But overall, Robert Gately tells a good uplifting story.

Grandma gives South of Main Street three and a half stars. 3.5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy from the author with a request for an honest review.