For me there is nothing better that reading an historical fiction when you were a part of the actual facts. I was a little girl riding the New York City subway system with my parents and I can remember looking at the ladies pictured in the subway on the trains. They were very pretty and one could not help but stare at them and of course as a little girl want to grow up to just just like them. So, reading this book was like taking a step back into my childhood days. Also relevant to me is that my youngest daughter is in advertising and has worked in this industry for some years now, so I could easily relate some of her experiences to the current day Olivia portrayed in this book.
The Subway Girls is a book that tells its stories through two girls separated by seventy years. First, there is Charlotte, pretty a senior at Hunter College, so desirous of a career in advertising when women in advertising was unheard of except perhaps as a secretary, receptionist, or typist. . She can see all her dreams shattered because her father, quite an authoritarian character, needs her to work in his down on its luck hardware store. Charlotte is approached to try out to be a subway girl and through an ironic twist of fate achieves that goal hoping through her notoriety to bolster her father’ business and escape the tedium she sees as her future.
Seventy years later, we meet Olivia an advertising executive trying to pitch to the MTA a campaign that will give the MTA much needed visibility and while researching the possibilities comes across the past usage of the subway girls and the idea takes root. We get a wonderful portrait of the advertising industry and the cut throat business it often is while meeting various people who are interwoven in Olivia’s life.
Eventually, Olivia and Charlotte meet and their stories come out and blend to make this book a wonderful look into the history and the ways in which women were treated in both the past and now in the business world.
This was a wonderfully written book that those who love historical fiction novels would surely enjoy. Ms Schnell was able to blend a truly believable story with the true events of the past and the current times. She was able to allow the reader to embark on an excellent journey into the past and make one truly aware of the progress women of today have made in the business world. I recommend this book highly for its content, its writing, and the way in which the characters were presented.
Susie Orman Schnall is the author of the novels THE SUBWAY GIRLS, THE BALANCE PROJECT, and ON GRACE. She grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Her writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, POPSUGAR, Writer’s Digest, and Glamour. Susie has spoken extensively on work-life balance and is the founder of The Balance Project interview series. She lives in Purchase, NY, with her husband and their three sons. For more: http://www.susieschnall.com.
We as women have certainly “Come a long way, baby!”