Red Letter Days
A striking novel from the acclaimed author of Radio Girls about two daring women who escape McCarthy-era Hollywood for London, where they find creative freedom and fight the injustices of the Red Scare.Nineteen-fifties America is bright and full of promise, and Phoebe Adler, a New Yorker brimming with talent and ambition, is forging her way as the rarest of things: a female television writer in Hollywood. But fears of a growing Red Menace cloud the optimism, egged on by the hate-mongering of Senator McCarthy. A blacklist is created to cast out communist sympathizers, smashing careers and ruining lives. When Phoebe finds herself caught in the hysteria’s web, she flees to London.Though postwar London is struggling and work is precarious, Phoebe finds camaraderie with other Americans living in exile, including the restless and ambitious Hannah Wolfson. Determined to fight the injustices of the Red Scare, Hannah is a successful producer who hires blacklisted writers at great risk to her career and company.Together Phoebe and Hannah successfully fight unfair bias and sexism, but danger still looms in this supposed sanctuary. And when their families and friends—their very lives—are threatened, they will have to make impossible choices.

Red Letter Days Details

TitleRed Letter Days
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 25th, 2020
PublisherBerkley
ISBN-139780451475572
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Red Letter Days Review

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Just after the war, the United States in the fifties is an exciting place to be. Phoebe Adler is a New Yorker on her way to Hollywood to work as a TV writer, not a common role for women at the time.Phoebes excitement and star on the rise are short-lived, however, due to the hate being spewed by Senator McCarthy and his followers, fear of communist sympathizers. Eventually, Phoebe is blacklisted in Hollywood and leaves for London.There Phoebe continues to struggle finding work, but she finds Just after the war, the United States in the fifties is an exciting place to be. Phoebe Adler is a New Yorker on her way to Hollywood to work as a TV writer, not a common role for women at the time.Phoebe’s excitement and star on the rise are short-lived, however, due to the hate being spewed by Senator McCarthy and his followers, fear of communist sympathizers. Eventually, Phoebe is blacklisted in Hollywood and leaves for London.There Phoebe continues to struggle finding work, but she finds comfort among other expats seeking exile in London. She becomes close with Hannah Wolfson, a producer who is willing to hire blacklisted writers no matter the cost.Phoebe and Hannah are in a dangerous position, one that could implode at any moment.I’ve read books about the Red Scare after World War II, and this story definitely offered a different angle and refreshing viewpoint. I especially loved that women were supporting women during these difficult and dangerous times.Overall, Red Letter Days shines a bright light on a dark time in our nation’s history. A time when people were doubted, ridiculed, blacklisted, and even threatened and harmed, without a shred of evidence.I received a gifted copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader.
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  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsEven though I read historical fiction novels quite often, surprisingly the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s is not a subject I have seen explored all that much. So I was glad to see this author not only tackle the topic but do a pretty good job as well.It's the 1950s and Phoebe Adler is a television writer, no small feat considering it's a male dominated industry. But unfortunately for Phoebe, the fear of Communism is still sweeping the nation and has hit Hollywood particularly hard. 3.5 starsEven though I read historical fiction novels quite often, surprisingly the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s is not a subject I have seen explored all that much. So I was glad to see this author not only tackle the topic but do a pretty good job as well.It's the 1950s and Phoebe Adler is a television writer, no small feat considering it's a male dominated industry. But unfortunately for Phoebe, the fear of Communism is still sweeping the nation and has hit Hollywood particularly hard. People are willing to name names whether there is truth to it or not and Phoebe finds herself on the infamous blacklist and decides her best option is to flee to London. Hannah Wolfson has found some success as a producer in England and even though she could be risking it all if the wrong people found out, she hires blacklisted writers to come work for her. Hannah, Phoebe, and other exiled Americans living in London are safe from what's going on over in America, right? I read the The Chelsea Girls a month ago and because it's still fresh in my mind it's hard not to compare it with this book. The Hollywood blacklist is something that plays a role in both stories however Red Letter Days in my opinion explores the topic with a little more depth. And after reading the Author's Note, this one is more heavy on the historical side in terms of some of the characters being based on real life people. Both Phoebe and Hannah were solid, strong female characters. Phoebe has had a rough life so you can't help but want to root for the underdog. And given Hannah was risking so much in order to help others, she was an intriguing character as well. In terms of their storylines, the only thing that fell a bit flat and didn't interest me as much was their love lives. Hannah's relationship with her husband didn't seem to enhance the story in my opinion.The main criticism I have with this book is it was not a story I felt fully engrossed in. That doesn't mean I didn't like it, more it just wasn't a page turner or the type of book I would sit around reading for hours at a time. This book might not have hit amazing level for me but it still was a worthwhile read. I did love the combination of history and fiction and felt I walked away having learned a bit more about this time period. And that's always a good thing to be able to say after reading a historical fiction book. Would definitely recommend checking this one out if the whole Hollywood blacklist is a topic that interests you.Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley for providing me with an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
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  • MicheleReader
    January 1, 1970
    The history of the 1950s and the insanity of the Red Scare is one that has always intrigued me. Based on that interest, I was fully engrossed by Red Letter Days. The HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) was created, utilizing subpoenas and blacklists, to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities of those suspected of having Communist ties. Many people's lives were ruined including those in the entertainment business. This is a story of two women whose lives intersect as The history of the 1950s and the insanity of the Red Scare is one that has always intrigued me. Based on that interest, I was fully engrossed by Red Letter Days. The HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) was created, utilizing subpoenas and blacklists, to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities of those suspected of having Communist ties. Many people's lives were ruined including those in the entertainment business. This is a story of two women whose lives intersect as they each deal with the impact of the HUAC and its hysteria. Phoebe is living in New York City working to establish herself as a writer for television when she is suddenly fired as her name shows up on a blacklist. To escape a subpoena to testify, she flees to London and reaches out to Hannah who is a television producer known for hiring blacklisted writers. This book does a fine job in showing the tough predicament these individuals were put in and how they sought a way to survive this witch hunt. The character of Hannah Wolfson was inspired by the real-life journalist and television producer Hannah Weinstein and her bravery in hiring many blacklisted writers at great personal risk. An interesting book about a dark time in American history. I’d like to thank Edelweiss, Berkley and the author for an advance copy. It comes out on February 25.Review also posted at MicheleReader.com
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  • Berit☀️✨
    January 1, 1970
    This was the perfect read to kick off Womens History Month. This was an informative story about the red scare, the entertainment business, and two women who stood strong. Phoebe Adler is a young woman living in New York working as a television writer when she finds herself on the blacklist. With no ties to communism and a sister who is ill and depending on her, Phoebe does not know what to do when she is summoned to appear in front of Congress. Urged on by her sister and with no other options This was the perfect read to kick off Women’s History Month. This was an informative story about the red scare, the entertainment business, and two women who stood strong. Phoebe Adler is a young woman living in New York working as a television writer when she finds herself on the “blacklist“. With no ties to communism and a sister who is ill and depending on her, Phoebe does not know what to do when she is summoned to appear in front of Congress. Urged on by her sister and with no other options Phoebe heads to London. In London she finds refuge with other exiled Americans and starts working for Hannah Wolfson. Hannah is a producer who hires blacklisted writers and directors to work on her current television project Robin Hood. Phoebe lands a job as the script girl and has an opportunity to write a Robin Hood episode. But Senator McCarthy and the FBI’s power is far reaching and it might just be a matter of time before Phoebe’s luck runs out. This was a story about a part of history I really know very little of and I found it so disturbing and unfortunate. It is crazy that people were accused of being communist for virtually no reason at all other than they might have once upon a time had a red thought. The story was so well researched and I really appreciated that, however it never really completely pulled me in. I really liked Phoebe and I felt for her and I liked her relationship with her sister. But she was like a friend who keeps you at arms distance, she felt a little removed a bit detached. There was a strong bond between Phoebe and Hannah that I really liked, I just wanted a little more of that in the story. This is a well told, well researched story that lacked some emotion. I would recommend this for the true historical fiction reader. And don’t forget to read the authors note, it was really interesting how she came up with a story and how this is loosely based on real peopleThis book in emojis. 🧧📽🎬📞📺👭✈️🚢*** Big thank you to Berkley Pub for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***
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  • Joan Happel
    January 1, 1970
    Its the 1950s and up-coming TV screenwriter Phoebe Adler, is living her dream, until it all comes crashing down. She is accused of being a communist by the HUAC and to avoid naming names and being sent to jail, she escapes to London. Surrounded by other expats from the United States, she soon falls in with Hannah Wolfson who hires her for her new show. Hannah has adapted The Adventures of Robin Hood for television and is determined to hire blacklisted writers to help her. (The fictional It’s the 1950s and up-coming TV screenwriter Phoebe Adler, is living her dream, until it all comes crashing down. She is accused of being a communist by the HUAC and to avoid naming names and being sent to jail, she escapes to London. Surrounded by other expats from the United States, she soon falls in with Hannah Wolfson who hires her for her new show. Hannah has adapted “The Adventures of Robin Hood” for television and is determined to hire blacklisted writers to help her. (The fictional character of Hannah Wolfson is based on real-life Hannah Weinstein who was a successful producer in both Great Britain and U.S.) Meanwhile, Phoebe is stilled being hunted by an FBI agent, and she does not know whom she can really trust.This is a fast-paced historical fiction novel of a dark time in US history. The story deals not only with the issues faced by American citizens being targeted for their beliefs and having their careers ruined. It also touches on the issues of the gay and lesbian community being forced to hide their relationships from society, employers and their own government. There are portrayals of women trying to find their way in male dominated industries and juggling both their careers and traditional duties of wife and mother. Even Hedda Hopper, an infamous commie-hater, makes a cameo in this novel. A well-researched and deftly plotted story, this is a fascinating look at a time period from the not too distant past. I highly recommend this novel for fans of historical fiction, or anyone interested in reading about the red-scare and the activities of the HUAC in the United States, as well as the pioneering efforts of the real Hannah Weinstein.Thank you to Berkley Publishing and NetGalley for the e-ARC.
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  • Amy Imogene Reads
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsTwo woman try to make their own path in the film industry of the 1950s amid the Communist Red Scare, complete with Mad Men vibes, female agency, and a touch of Hollywood.Characters: ★★★Plot: ★★★★Pacing: ★★★Phoebe Adler is in New York, scratching out a living as a screenwriter for a mid-level detective TV show. Her shows have her name on the credits, but it's hard being a self-made woman after WWII, when the men have returned from the war and want their jobs back. Phoebe doesn't mind 3.5 starsTwo woman try to make their own path in the film industry of the 1950s amid the Communist Red Scare, complete with Mad Men vibes, female agency, and a touch of Hollywood.Characters: ★★★Plot: ★★★★Pacing: ★★★Phoebe Adler is in New York, scratching out a living as a screenwriter for a mid-level detective TV show. Her shows have her name on the credits, but it's hard being a self-made woman after WWII, when the men have returned from the war and want their jobs back. Phoebe doesn't mind much, except for getting her name out there and making sure she's making enough money for her sick sister in the sanitorium, Mona. When the Red Menace comes knocking and Phoebe's world turns on its head, London may just be her saving grace.Hannah Wolfson is an expatriate living in London. She's managed to create a production company and successfully be an executive producer in a male-dominated world—and her husband and kids support her. But when blacklisted writers and talent arrive in the UK and Hannah decides to risk it all and hire them, odds are something will fall through the new cracks. This was such an immersive reading experience. Red Letter Days made me feel like I was in the 1950s, down to the details. It was harder for me to read the sexism—also a necessary element—because that's something I really dislike in my escapist fiction, but I thought the author did a fantastic job of conveying female agency amid those issues. However, in general I struggled with the density of the descriptions and lack of driving pacing. Due to the fact that this novel is much more exploratory and reliant on slice-of-life, this was definitely a "me" problem. The author did a fantastic job of portraying the real life struggles of these women in real time. I think I just wanted more pizzazz, more intrigue—coming from a predominantly fantasy and mystery/thriller reader, hopefully that further explains my lackluster rating. If you are a fan of historical fiction and/or old-school Hollywood a la The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, give this a go! The atmosphere is fantastic. Thank you to Berkley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    This book takes place in the 1950s, and it follows a female writer who has been black listed. She leaves New York to go to London, England after being black listed. She starts writing in London under a different name, but she is found and token back to the USA. I felt this book was just ok. I won an arc copy of this book from a goodreads giveaway, but this review is 100% my own opinion of this book.
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  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Phoebe was finally making some money for her scripts and getting well known, but then for some reason she was tagged as being a communist by the government and blacklisted by the playwrights.Phoebe had no idea what she did to be tagged, but she decided to leave the country and head to London where there was someone who would take her scripts no matter who or what she was.We follow Phoebe on her trip across the ocean and when she arrives in London determined to make a name for herself in the Phoebe was finally making some money for her scripts and getting well known, but then for some reason she was tagged as being a communist by the government and blacklisted by the playwrights.Phoebe had no idea what she did to be tagged, but she decided to leave the country and head to London where there was someone who would take her scripts no matter who or what she was.We follow Phoebe on her trip across the ocean and when she arrives in London determined to make a name for herself in the seven weeks she was granted to be in the country.I enjoyed the characters in RED LETTER DAYS. LOVE the cover.Phoebe was funny and lovable and eager to take chances. Hannah was talented but flighty. Phoebe’s sister, Mona, was upbeat even though her life wasn’t.We see the historical struggles and worries that play writes had at this time and how the blacklisted writers could get into deep trouble.Historical fiction fans, fans of the theater and television productions, and fans of Robin Hood will enjoy RED LETTER DAYS. Ms. Stratford did marvelous, in-depth research, but The Robin Hood pages that took up a great deal of the book actually were of no interest, and that did make the story drag for me. 3/5This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Susan Jaffe Pober
    January 1, 1970
    With so many people shouting about making America great again, one must realize that times that some thought were great were not great for everyone. When one thinks of the 1950's and the Eisenhower years, some people consider a perfect time as people started moving to the suburbs to live an Ozzie & Harriet life. But for many, the 50's were not at all great. Many parts of the country were still segregated & had Jim Crow laws. And then there was the HUAC; the House Un-American Activities With so many people shouting about making America great again, one must realize that times that some thought were great were not great for everyone. When one thinks of the 1950's and the Eisenhower years, some people consider a perfect time as people started moving to the suburbs to live an Ozzie & Harriet life. But for many, the 50's were not at all great. Many parts of the country were still segregated & had Jim Crow laws. And then there was the HUAC; the House Un-American Activities Committee.. The committee conducted witch hunts in an effort to rid the red tide of Communism from invading our country. It didn't matter if you were left-leaning or a card-carrying member, or even just knew someone who was, "Red Letter Days" by Sarah-Jane Stratford is about those days of terror. People from all walks of life were attacked - from famous actors, writers, musicians, as well as union leaders and your next door neighbor. This is the story of one young woman, Phoebe Adler, who fled the country because of unfounded attacks against her. (So-called friends & neighbors self-righteously would name names to get themselves off the hook.) The author writes about the reality of always having to look behind; of not knowing whom to trust; and of trying to create a new life, never knowing when it might all collapse around you. For readers who are not familiar with this period in U.S. history, this is an easy to read introduction to the subject. And you will want to find more to read about this scary time, which we can even see popping up in our country today.
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  • Glen
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in a goodreads drawing.Dreary book set during the Dark Times of McCarthyism. a woman is blacklisted and goes to England. She befriends a woman television producer who hires blacklisted writers.Didn't really do anything for me.
  • Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)
    January 1, 1970
    This is the second novel by Sarah-Jane Stratford I have the pleasure reading. Sarah-Janes writing is detailed and beautiful; it is perfectly suited for historical fiction. It shows that she researched the subject very well as she delivered a truthful account of the dark pursuits of the House Un-American Activities Committee (a.k.a. HUAC) and their hunt for communists in America in the 50s. In this novel, we follow the story of Phoebe Adler, a writer, who is accused of being affiliated with the This is the second novel by Sarah-Jane Stratford I have the pleasure reading. Sarah-Jane’s writing is detailed and beautiful; it is perfectly suited for historical fiction. It shows that she researched the subject very well as she delivered a truthful account of the dark pursuits of the House Un-American Activities Committee (a.k.a. HUAC) and their hunt for communists in America in the ’50s. In this novel, we follow the story of Phoebe Adler, a writer, who is accused of being affiliated with the communist party. At her sister’s begging, she escapes to England and hopes that this madness will soon be over so she can return to America. While in London, she joins a group of Americans who, just like her, escaped the folly. They will become her allies, her friends, and her foes. But the FBI has long arms and her safety is soon jeopardized. Will Phoebe ever be safe?I enjoyed the book and the characters. I recently read a book by Fiona Davis on the same subject and it somewhat stole the novelty from this book. It was however interesting to see the point of view of those who decided to escape the prosecution by going to England and how they fought this injustice. Overall, it is an enjoyable read and I recommend it to the historical fiction lovers.🙋🏼‍♀️ Thank you, Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this beautiful novel. 𝗥𝗲𝗱 𝗟𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗗𝗮𝘆𝘀 by Sarah-Jane Stratford will be available at your favourite bookstore on February 25, 2020.#poodles #poodlestagram #poodlesofinstagram #furbabies #dogsofinstagram #bookstagram #dogsandbooks #bookishlife #bookishlove #bookstagrammer #book #books #booklover #bookish #bookaholic #reading #readersofinstagram #instaread #ilovebooks #bookishcanadians #canadianbookstagram #bookreviewer #bookcommunity #bibliophile #bookphotography #redletterdays #sarahjanestratford #bookreview #historicalfiction
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  • Lisa Mancini
    January 1, 1970
    A fun read. I read this in one weekend.
  • Katie Mccormick
    January 1, 1970
    I fell in love with the characters and plot more with every page that I turned. By the end of the book, I boycotted the book because it just could NOT end yet. Its such a great history lesson. I can see Claire Danes and Margot Robbie playing the main characters WHEN it becomes a movie! I fell in love with the characters and plot more with every page that I turned. By the end of the book, I boycotted the book because it just could NOT end yet. It’s such a great history lesson. I can see Claire Danes and Margot Robbie playing the main characters WHEN it becomes a movie!
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  • Gail
    January 1, 1970
    Red Letter Days was my first book by this author, but I doubt it will be my last. LOVED this book! It is set about 10 years after WW2 in the mid-fifties during the second Red Scare and the blacklisting of many people in TV and film and during a time when the House Un-American Activities Committee and the FBI had a lot of power. I loved that the story was about two women trying to make it in a man's profession (at that time) and how they were both often perceived as a threat (one to the point of Red Letter Days was my first book by this author, but I doubt it will be my last. LOVED this book! It is set about 10 years after WW2 in the mid-fifties during the second Red Scare and the blacklisting of many people in TV and film and during a time when the House Un-American Activities Committee and the FBI had a lot of power. I loved that the story was about two women trying to make it in a man's profession (at that time) and how they were both often perceived as a threat (one to the point of being named as a communist when she really had no interest in politics at all). But it showed really clearly how un-American these people looking for communists had become in their efforts. I loved that most of the book is set in London, during the time of Call the Midwives and the friendships that develop between these two American women living in London (though going on and on about the accents got to be a little too much). I thought the story had good pacing, I read most of it in about 2 days, because I just couldn't wait to find out what would happen. I fell in love with the characters and cried and yelled a few times because of the things that happened in the story. There was friendship, love, betrayals, men who were creeps, and men who were very, very good. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, and I can honestly say that this was my favorite book I've read so far this year.
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  • BookTrib.com
    January 1, 1970
    Red Letter Days (Berkley) by Sarah-Jane Stratford is a vivid portrayal of artistic life during the Red Scare and the challenges women screenwriters faced in the eras entertainment industry. It is also a witty and harrowing tale of intrigue, friendship and romance.Phoebe Adler is making her way as a female television writer in 1955 when she finds herself subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Phoebes saucy and loving sister is deathly ill, and she laments having to leave her Red Letter Days (Berkley) by Sarah-Jane Stratford is a vivid portrayal of artistic life during the Red Scare and the challenges women screenwriters faced in the era’s entertainment industry. It is also a witty and harrowing tale of intrigue, friendship and romance.Phoebe Adler is making her way as a female television writer in 1955 when she finds herself subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Phoebe’s saucy and loving sister is deathly ill, and she laments having to leave her behind. However, unable to work in America and betrayed by neighbors and friends who instantaneously ostracize her, Phoebe books passage on a ship bound for London, where a tight-knit group of blacklisted refugees has been gathering. Upon settling in, resourceful Phoebe tracks down Hannah Wolfson, a fellow expat and television producer sympathetic to her plight. Together the women launch a kids’ show based on Robin Hood, with cheeky storylines that provide an implicit criticism of the hysteria back in the States. Phoebe soon proves herself, and she and Hannah form a tight bond. Stratford imbues the text with lively energy and a wry voice as she illuminates the sexism that both of her main protagonists face. For example, in reference to disposable female television characters, the narrator says, “… the censors preferred it when a bad girl [on a show] was killed if there wasn’t time to reform before the commercials ran.” A nimble stylist, Stratford’s (sneakily feminist) dialogue suits her quick-witted and hard-boiled broads, as if lifted from classic films like His Girl Friday. For instance, when confronting a man who asks Phoebe if he should call her a cab, she replies, “I’ve been called worse.”In spite of its constant and quickly escalating dangers — tapped phones and shady men lurking in trench coats — Phoebe’s new life abroad has its bright spots, including a growing romance. Upon meeting her beau, the narrator says, “He had a mole on his cheek and could fence with that nose. A detail Phoebe found rather appealing.” FBI investigators and meddling reporters scrutinize the show, whose writers are all working under assumed names, and Phoebe is all but certain to be nabbed. She and Hannah face an ultimate test to their joint resourcefulness. Stratford displays an impressive ability for illuminating the 1950s in both its grit and its charm. Nostalgic for the New York she’s left behind, Phoebe thinks of “her favorite Midtown diner, flossy, bright loud. A fat red stool and a white-capped counterman asking her in a good-natured holler, ‘What’ll it be, honey?’” She also ably portrays the dark days of surveillance and paranoia. Careers and friendships crumbled during the thirteen agonizing years of Red Madness, ensnaring any number of innocents, including anyone who vocally “touted the virtues of the New Deal” or joined a union, which accounts for the legions of Hollywood writers who found themselves exiled. However, Phoebe and Hannah’s story is no time capsule. As Stratford writers in her Author’s Note, “It is staggering to think of the United States, emerging victorious and a superpower at the end of World War II, should have been so afraid of the spread of Communism that it would start persecuting its own citizens.” Indeed, similar to the Robin Hood show with its social critique wrapped in a palatable form, Red Letter Days is a timeless and relevant story about the dangers of bias, conformity and groupthink.
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  • Libby
    January 1, 1970
    This was a WONDERFUL book. I couldn't put it down. While many have written about WW2 and the Sixties, the period between the two, when McCarthyism flourished and many people were persecuted and stripped from their careers, because of "Communist" leanings, was a lesser known but poisonous time in our country's history. What I didn't know was that so many Americans suffering under the Blacklist decamped for Britain. I know that now. And I can't wait to talk to Sarah-Jane about all of it. Join us This was a WONDERFUL book. I couldn't put it down. While many have written about WW2 and the Sixties, the period between the two, when McCarthyism flourished and many people were persecuted and stripped from their careers, because of "Communist" leanings, was a lesser known but poisonous time in our country's history. What I didn't know was that so many Americans suffering under the Blacklist decamped for Britain. I know that now. And I can't wait to talk to Sarah-Jane about all of it. Join us this weekend, March 6, 2020, on my Second Sunday Books Podcast (Soundcloud or Anchor FM or wherever you get your podcasts).
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  • Chelsie
    January 1, 1970
    Very good read about how those with a career in the Arts during the red scare in the US feared for their lives, careers and who to trust. Many fled across the ocean to try and salvage themselves from the damage already done. Well written novel about how two women, in a way best the US at their ridiculous ridicule of accusing and assuming things that were not true. Thank you to Shelf Awareness for the arc! Very good read about how those with a career in the Arts during the “red scare” in the US feared for their lives, careers and who to trust. Many fled across the ocean to try and salvage themselves from the damage already done. Well written novel about how two women, in a way best the US at their ridiculous ridicule of accusing and assuming things that were not true. Thank you to Shelf Awareness for the arc!
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  • Lisa of Hopewell
    January 1, 1970
    I learned of this book here: https://www.popsugar.com/entertainmen...
  • Virginia Myers
    January 1, 1970
    I am happy that I had the chance to read and review this book. I think I need to begin this review by giving a little background. In the era of the McCarthy hearings, I finished high school and began my college education. My life as a college student was vastly different than the life of a college student in todays world. I may have been especially naïve at the time but in 1955 I actually dont think many others my age (at least in West Virginia) followed national news and I dont think anyone I I am happy that I had the chance to read and review this book. I think I need to begin this review by giving a little background. In the era of the McCarthy hearings, I finished high school and began my college education. My life as a college student was vastly different than the life of a college student in today’s world. I may have been especially naïve at the time but in 1955 I actually don’t think many others my age (at least in West Virginia) followed national news and I don’t think anyone I knew even thought of becoming active in politics or in any political organizations or groups. I began living in my sorority house in 1954 and I do not ever remember our new TV set ever being used to watch anything other than entertainment. I remember later hearing a few people talk about the McCarthy hearings and the black listed people but I did not witness those things first hand. Since those days, I did become aware that the McCarthy hearings had happened and what they were about but that is not the same as being aware of them day-by-day as they were in process.So I really enjoyed reading this book which made what I had missed back then come alive for me. I think the plot was believable and I felt as if I was given the opportunity to relive those years but this time with my eyes open. I also thought the character development was well done. I would recommend that anyone interested in American History read the book. I believe that book clubs could enjoy discussing the book especially comparing the McCarthy hearings to a modern day hearing such as when Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court was being challenged.
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  • The Library Lady
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting subject, mediocre writing. The dying sister subplot was a bit corny, and there were too many lucky coincidences. And I find it hilarious /horrific that the author has a character tell Our Heroine that they will have to clean some "modern language" from a script she has written when this Dear Author herself has Our Heroine go to a canteen for a cuppa, and refers to the server as a "barista." In London in the early 50s?Also, in the afterward, the author is very proud of herself for Interesting subject, mediocre writing. The dying sister subplot was a bit corny, and there were too many lucky coincidences. And I find it hilarious /horrific that the author has a character tell Our Heroine that they will have to clean some "modern language" from a script she has written when this Dear Author herself has Our Heroine go to a canteen for a cuppa, and refers to the server as a "barista." In London in the early 50s?Also, in the afterward, the author is very proud of herself for having tucked in a Dorothy Sayers reference by having our Heroine meet someone at the "Egotist" Club. Dear Author, if you knew squat about gentlemen's clubs of the period, you'd know that women guests were not permitted . And Dear Author, you are no D.L. Sayers.
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  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    I have not come across many historical fiction that are set during the 1950s and that feature the intense hunt for hidden communists in America. It is a time that both fascinates and horrifies me. When I saw that RedLetter Days focuses on this from the perspective of those who have or will be blacklisted I couldn't resist picking it up. Thank you Berkeley and Edelweiss for the e-arc in exchange for my honest opinion...After recently finishing this novel, I have to say my feelings are a little I have not come across many historical fiction that are set during the 1950s and that feature the intense hunt for hidden communists in America. It is a time that both fascinates and horrifies me. When I saw that RedLetter Days focuses on this from the perspective of those who have or will be blacklisted I couldn't resist picking it up. Thank you Berkeley and Edelweiss for the e-arc in exchange for my honest opinion...After recently finishing this novel, I have to say my feelings are a little mixed. It is an interesting story told from two women's perspective. Hannah, wife, mother and rising star television producer who has been exiled to England. And Phoebe, aspiring TV writer who must escape the US after being blacklisted. The first half of the book flew by as I got caught up in the life and work of these women. They were trailblazers and I was fascinated how they balanced it all in a time when women were really confined to one role.But the second half slowed as the focus shifted more towards the American Government and what they seemed willing to do to bring down those they believed to be Communist sympathizers. And at times it felt a little repetitive and over the top - however, I appreciate that this was based on some real life events. Now that was truly disturbing.Overall. I enjoyed this book and found myself learning ore about this absolutely crazy time period. I also really liked the author's note as it was informative and gave wonderful insight into the development of the story.
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  • Pamela
    January 1, 1970
    This book finds us in the mid-twentieth century, shortly after WWII when women went back to the home after building airplanes. In New York we find our main character Phoebe Adler, a self-confident woman making her way was a writer, supporting herself and her sister Mona with health problems that has Mona living in a sanatorium. The red scare is the dominant thrust of the story, and Phoebe finds herself targeted even though she is not political at all. Upon the advice of friends she quickly flees This book finds us in the mid-twentieth century, shortly after WWII when women went back to the home after building airplanes. In New York we find our main character Phoebe Adler, a self-confident woman making her way was a writer, supporting herself and her sister Mona with health problems that has Mona living in a sanatorium. The red scare is the dominant thrust of the story, and Phoebe finds herself targeted even though she is not political at all. Upon the advice of friends she quickly flees New York after being subpoenaed, and lands in London. The story also follows another with Hanna Wolfson, also an American in London, although married with two young kids. Her husband has money and helps Hannah set up a studio that soon develops a hit television series. Hannah purposefully hires blacklisted writers, using pseudonyms, and with her new series hopes to subvert the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Phoebe was advised to seek out Hanna, who hires her temporarily as a script reader on set until she can get established.While the book is mainly focused on Phoebe we do get some of Hanna’s life. Although she’s a mother of two, she makes juggling her work with her kids and still remain happily married. Slowly we are to realize that Hannah’s husband isn’t feeling the same with remarks about women being a wife and mother, not out in the workplace. This becomes a major undertone in the book, women taking on working roles. We see both women attacked for being in the workforce, more so with Phoebe since she is unmarried.Even with living in England the Americans are still under threat. Phoebe finds herself being followed. A reporter comes for an unexpected visit to the studio set hoping to catch a known red director. The action keeps everyone on their toes, especially the reader.Despite all the excitement that keeps going, I found the beginning of the book somewhat on a light breezy tone. I found that odd since the subject matter was anything but. Somehow it didn’t seem serious. As the book progressed that changed. Perhaps it was the main character, Phoebe who liked to make jokes, sort of the smart aleck type, the brainy type that often annoyed. I’m not entirely sure. Overall I found the book to be well written and engaging. There were times when I had to put the book down, but was quite reluctant to do so.I particularly enjoyed the author’s note at the end where she detailed what was taken from real life and the bits she made up to make this an interesting read.Thanks to Berkley Publishing/Penguin Random House and NetGalley for an uncorrected electronic advance review copy of this book.
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  • Viviane Crystal
    January 1, 1970
    In the late 1950s Senator Joe McCarthy began what came to be known as the Red Scare. Halfway through that period, even after Senator McCarthy had to withdrawn from the HUAC or House of Un-American Activities Committee, the Committee was still holding trials of those who were blacklisted for an association with either the Communist or Red Party others associated with the same party. The source of most of their information were lists of people who named others so that they would be released and In the late 1950s Senator Joe McCarthy began what came to be known as the “Red Scare.” Halfway through that period, even after Senator McCarthy had to withdrawn from the HUAC or House of Un-American Activities Committee, the Committee was still holding trials of those who were blacklisted for an association with either the Communist or Red Party others associated with the same party. The source of most of their information were lists of people who named others so that they would be released and cleared of being a Red. This is the story of two women writers who were blacklisted, one (Phoebe Adler) of whom had escaped a subpoena by fleeing to England. Phoebe must work as a script writer in order to financially support her very ill sister living in a health sanitarium. After she gets blacklisted based on someone else’s false confession, she leaves for England and begins, thanks to the helpfulness of Hannah, a woman who has hired several blacklisted writers and producers. The choice was this escape or trial and jail plus heft financial fines. However, note that Phoebe and Hannah are very good writers!The travesty of those who did not escape is that their careers were totally ruined. But thee exiles got a second chance. Eventually some were arrested in England, brought back to American and made to appear before the HUAC. Some thanks to strong supporters made it through and returned to England but the story still needed to be told because of the hell they went through, like Phoebe, in the long anxiety-producing, fearful process or journey. Sarah-Jane Stratford has certainly done a great deal of research and this novel is a poignant account of that experience for far too many writers, actors, producers and directors accused of being Communists. There is also a subplot of the role of married women who chose to work after the war and who therefore were considered to be unfeminine. Some stuck it out; some wound up divorced. These women were assuming roles for the first time that Americans were not always willing to accept. The novel also contains some very funny moments as scripts are being prepared for the TV production of Robin Hood and another for The Legend of Lancelot.Remarkable, intelligent, adventurous, and engaging historical fiction that is well-crafted, fascinating and highly readable. A must read! Enjoy!
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  • MsArdychan
    January 1, 1970
    Please Note: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.I have read a few books about all the horrible things done to American citizens during the hysteria that was McCarthyism. So, I thought I knew most everything about it. But, Red Letter Days, by Sarah-Jean Stratford brings the unique perspective of how women were affected by America's Communist witch hunts. The book was both fascinating Please Note: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.I have read a few books about all the horrible things done to American citizens during the hysteria that was McCarthyism. So, I thought I knew most everything about it. But, Red Letter Days, by Sarah-Jean Stratford brings the unique perspective of how women were affected by America's Communist witch hunts. The book was both fascinating and highly entertaining.What I Liked:Historical Details:I really got a feel for the time period in this book. There were so many details about the food, the clothing, and even how people used the telephone that I felt completely caught up in this era.Characters:I loved the two main characters, Phoebe, and Hannah. Each one has a specific part to play in this book. While Phoebe's journey is more about how she handles the restrictions of being blacklisted, Hannah's tale focuses on the barriers women had to overcome to have careers outside the home. Both characters were gusty and fascinating.The male characters were diverse in that many of them were not the standard misogynistic creeps we imagine. There's Sydney, Hannah's associate producer. I loved that he always treated Hannah with the respect she deserved. And he was strictly business with Hannah, no fake romantic undertones. Phoebe, perhaps because she was not married, has a somewhat harder time with the men. She runs into plenty of guys who think it's unnatural for a women to be working! Sadly, this was the attitude of many men in the 1950's. But Phoebe does find an interesting man in her journey.I also loved the relationship between Phoebe and her sister Mona. Mona has a medical condition that has placed her in a long term care facility. But Phoebe still finds ways to spend time with her and ensure she never feels abandoned.Story:The story, about how many blacklisted people in entertainment fled to Europe, was really entertaining. I had no idea that this had actually occurred. When several of these people start working in the burgeoning British television industry (using aliases), the novel takes on the feel of a spy thriller. Many people went to great lengths to protect these Americans from the FBI. The harassment of these people by their own American government is truly shameful.This was a highly entertaining novel from a perspective I knew little about. A must read for people who enjoy Historical Fiction.
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  • Linda Zagon
    January 1, 1970
    Linda's Book Obsession Reviews "Red Letter Days" by Sarah=Jane Stratford, Berkley, February 25, 2020 Sarah-Jane Stratford, Author of "Red Letter Days" has written an intense, intriguing, captivating, compelling and thought-provoking novel. The Genre for this novel is Historical Fiction. The timeline for this story is set in the nineteen fifties, during the McCarthy trials. The author describes her characters as complex and complicated. There are betrayals, and some characters are desperate to Linda's Book Obsession Reviews "Red Letter Days" by Sarah=Jane Stratford, Berkley, February 25, 2020 Sarah-Jane Stratford, Author of "Red Letter Days" has written an intense, intriguing, captivating, compelling and thought-provoking novel. The Genre for this novel is Historical Fiction. The timeline for this story is set in the nineteen fifties, during the McCarthy trials. The author describes her characters as complex and complicated. There are betrayals, and some characters are desperate to survive at any cost.Phoebe Adler, a young woman from New York is hoping to write for television.  This is at a time when women are not supposed to get roles based on merit. It angers many men that a talented woman writer could possibly take a job away that belonged to him. It is also a time of prejudice and fear as writers, and other artistic people are being blacklisted for being Communists. Phoebe has been successful in her writing attempts and is shocked when she is fired and blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer. Phoebe has been trying to also support her ailing sister, who is in a hospital. Feeling, she has no choice, Phoebe leaves America and heads for London.Hannah Wolfson is a successful American producer in London.  Helen does hire "blacklisted: Americans, although it is very dangerous. She has to take certain precautions. Some Londoners resent that the Americans get the jobs. In London, just like America, women are looked down upon, expected to marry, and have children, and not take jobs away from men.Hannah does hire Phoebe, and they try to right what is wrong in society, but is it the correct timing? Little do they realize the danger, and the persistence of those who are seeking revenge.I appreciate the amount of research that the author has done to provide the details in this story. The author vividly describes the witch hunts and prejudice in this story. I highly recommend this thought-provoking novel for those readers who appreciate Historical Fiction.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    I love to read historical fiction because it usually brings some part of history alive through characterization and descriptive story lines. Its even more rewarding when the author sets the story against a backdrop of which I know every little. Red Letter Days is one such novel. Its an intriguing story of the ugly side of 1950s America: the governments use of subpoenas, blacklists and the FBI to root out any person deemed a Red and, therefore, un-American. Phoebe Adler is an up-and-coming New I love to read historical fiction because it usually brings some part of history alive through characterization and descriptive story lines. It’s even more rewarding when the author sets the story against a backdrop of which I know every little. Red Letter Days is one such novel. It’s an intriguing story of the “ugly” side of 1950s America: the government’s use of subpoenas, blacklists and the FBI to root out any person deemed a “Red” and, therefore, un-American. Phoebe Adler is an up-and-coming New York City television screenwriter who lives in bohemian Greenwich Village and has dreams of winning an Emmy someday. When she is abruptly fired after ending up on a blacklist, she flees to London in the hopes of evading jail and continuing to earn income as a writer. There she meets a group of ex-pats and finds work on the set of a television show produced by a wealthy woman, Hannah Wolfson. And here is where the story gets interesting. Hannah hires blacklisted Americans for her wildly successful show, and does so at great risk. Phoebe gets the opportunity to get her script in front of Hannah. Both women are flourishing in their success abroad, but the long arm of the Red Scare looms closer and each must protect their families, friendships and careers. You will enjoy Red Letter Days if you like strong female characters and have an interest in history. It’s a good reminder that bias (whether political, racial or economic) can quickly deviate into persecution. Hopefully, we Americans continue to learn from our past.
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  • Danielle Zimmerman
    January 1, 1970
    Youd think that the United States wouldve had better or more pressing things to do in the wake of World War II than tear itself apart and conspire against its own citizens. Because it wasnt a war, the Red Scare of the 1950s registers mainly as a blip in todays perspective of the countrys history. However, the persecutions and witch hunts, not to mention the threats against livelihoods and tearing apart of families and friends, was very real and had resounding impacts on all those involved.Told You’d think that the United States would’ve had better or more pressing things to do in the wake of World War II than tear itself apart and conspire against its own citizens. Because it wasn’t a war, the “Red Scare” of the 1950s registers mainly as a blip in today’s perspective of the country’s history. However, the persecutions and witch hunts, not to mention the threats against livelihoods and tearing apart of families and friends, was very real and had resounding impacts on all those involved.Told from a dual perspective and involving a wide array of blacklisted individuals as well as their families and friends, RED LETTER DAYS paints a fascinating portrait of just how much of an impact the Red Scare had on everyone in the 50s, not just those directly accused of communism. Lives were constantly uprooted and distrust loomed large as citizens were compelled to turn against each other with or without probable cause. It’s heartbreaking to watch the two main protagonists in this novel make sacrifice after sacrifice because of a needless chase.Based on the lives of real people and a very real television show, this novel shines a light on a dark and not often mentioned period of American history that many want to gloss over and forget. But for people like Hannah and Phoebe, as well as their families and friends, the impact was very real, many times devastating, and outlived the scare. RED LETTER DAYS is a great novel for readers who enjoy character pieces, historical fiction, or stories about Hollywood and entertainment.
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  • Selene
    January 1, 1970
    Red Letter Days is a fictional account of two women whose lives intersect during the McCarthy-era hearings. Post World War II, there is a growing faction of politicians who fear Americans turning Communist, and put them on trial, demanding that they name names of communists. Hollywood is hit especially hard, with many actors, writers, and directors being blacklisted.Phoebe Adler is a lesser-known writer of detective dramas, living and working in New York. When she is blacklisted and subpoenaed, Red Letter Days is a fictional account of two women whose lives intersect during the McCarthy-era hearings. Post World War II, there is a growing faction of politicians who fear Americans turning Communist, and put them on trial, demanding that they name names of communists. Hollywood is hit especially hard, with many actors, writers, and directors being blacklisted.Phoebe Adler is a lesser-known writer of detective dramas, living and working in New York. When she is blacklisted and subpoenaed, she hops across the pond to London to escape and find work. She does so with the encouragement of Mona, her terminally-ill sister living in a sanitarium, whom she supports financially.While in London, Phoebe meets Hannah Wolfson, television producer and pioneer. Hannah hires her to be a script girl, and eventually hires her as a writer for her newest television show. Hannah purposely hires blacklisted professionals, allowing them to work under an assumed name. Although the characters seem to be experiencing success, Phoebe and Hannah soon realize they are not safe from the witch hunt. Someone is following them. Intertwined with the political events of the day are subplots of romance, betrayal, friendships, and mortality. These other stories enhanced the main themes and plot.This historical fiction novel is well-researched and enjoyable to read. The pacing is excellent and it wasn’t predictable. It’s my first novel by this author, but it won’t be my last. Thank you to NetGalley for an e-proof of this book.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    More reviews and book-ish content @ Club Book Mobile on FB, Club Book Mobile on IG & Andrea RBKRed Letter Days by Sarah-Jane Stratford takes place during the Red Scare. Specifically, it looks at how this impacted the entertainment industry. Phoebe is an American TV writer who unexpectedly loses a role due to an accusation of her loyalties. She decides to head to London as others impacted have, and she connects with Hannah. Hannah is an American woman who puts those who have been unfairly More reviews and book-ish content @ Club Book Mobile on FB, Club Book Mobile on IG & Andrea RBKRed Letter Days by Sarah-Jane Stratford takes place during the Red Scare. Specifically, it looks at how this impacted the entertainment industry. Phoebe is an American TV writer who unexpectedly loses a role due to an accusation of her loyalties. She decides to head to London as others impacted have, and she connects with Hannah. Hannah is an American woman who puts those who have been unfairly impacted by the scare to work secretly. Prior to reading this, I knew of McCarthyism, but knew nothing of the impact on the entertainment industry, so this was a new exploration of history for me in that regard. With this advanced copy from Berkley, I'm supposed to give you my honest thoughts, and I always do, so I do have to share that there was something missing in this one for me. Because there was so much zoning in on the two women and the development and experiences of their characters, there wasn't as much history. For me, having more of that context around their story would have been helpful. I liked what was shared, but ultimately needed more. However, given this took place in London, I can also see how extensive coverage of what was happening in the United States didn't make sense. Overall, this read took me to a part of history through well-developed characters I haven't read through much, and I appreciated that opportunity.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    First off, let me start by saying that I received a copy of this book for free from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I honestly enjoyed this book more than I thought I would! Historical fiction is not normally something I gravitate towards, so I expected this book to drag for me. While there are definite sections in the book where its more political, and as a result, not my favorite, most of it was a fast paced read. The story is told from the perspective of two women, Phoebe and Hannah. I First off, let me start by saying that I received a copy of this book for free from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I honestly enjoyed this book more than I thought I would! Historical fiction is not normally something I gravitate towards, so I expected this book to drag for me. While there are definite sections in the book where it’s more political, and as a result, not my favorite, most of it was a fast paced read. The story is told from the perspective of two women, Phoebe and Hannah. I thoroughly enjoyed Hannah until the end when she was apparently the last one to notice that he husband was a scumbag... After the decline of her marriage her chapters were less interesting and more repetitive. Phoebe on the other hand, started off dull and got better and better as the story progressed. I will say that I don’t really understand what was happening in terms of the Jimmy situation... like did he just name Phoebe because she found a slight bit more success in the industry than he did? And is he the one who named Anne? And if so, how could he have possibly known all of that information about her when even her best friend didn’t..?And aside from the two main characters, the others weren’t super well developed. Like I wasn’t invested in Reg at all. And even Nigel who got dragged into the whole situation seemed a bit weird since I didn’t understand how and why he kept putting himself at the will of strangers who only called on him when they needed something. All in all, I would definitely recommend this book.
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