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September 6, 2021

The Royal Correspondent: A Novel by Alexandra Joel ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"The glamorous people, the opulent surroundings - all were foreign, entirely beyond her own experience.  What would Her Majesty's guests think if they knew who she really was:  not merely an upstart colonial reporter but a girl with a dire secret busied in her past?" (p 3)

 Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Royal Correspondent
September 2021; Harper Perennial; 978-0063112803
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); historical fiction

The author captures the glamour, style, excitement, and romance of a bygone era in this sumptuous novel—set in the Sydney and London of the 1960s—about an up-and-coming young Australian reporter with a deadly secret. 

It's the late 1950s and Blaise is trying to become a reporter, a job that has been held exclusively by men.  The only women who worked at the newspaper were the few women who worked on the women's pages which was not considered real news. When she has her first interview, she's told that she doesn't have what it takes to be a reporter but she finally gets a job as a 'copy boy' and works her way up to a night reporter job.  She's ridiculed and the butt of jokes by the male reporters but she works hard to fulfill her dreams.  When she makes a crucial mistake with a breaking story, she is sent to work on the women's pages.  This is a job that she's always looked down on but as she makes friends and begins to enjoy the job.  When she is sent to London to cover the wedding of Princess Margaret, she's thrilled with the chance to prove herself.  However, she left behind a potential scandal in Sydney and believes its behind her until she starts receiving mysterious letters from someone who knows her secret.  London is a total change for her - it's the 60s and London is full of fun and vibrant people and the era was referred to as the Swinging Sixties.  Will Blaise be able to keep her secret from jeopardizing her current exciting life or will it all blow up in her face?

I loved the main character - she was gutsy and tenacious when she went after her dream of becoming a reporter.  She stood up to the men in the newsroom who wanted to belittle her for being a woman.  Her life changed dramatically from the poor section of Sydney with very few clothes to London where she is respected and has a whole new wardrobe of stylish and popular clothes.  It was more than the job and the clothes - Blaise continued to work hard at her job to bring the real news to the people.  

Due to my age, I still have a problem considering the 60's to be historical fiction when it seems like it was such a short time ago.  The author's research into that time period was spot on especially regarding the discrimination towards women in the workplace.  Most people still believed that women had no place outside the home - an attitude that changed greatly during that decade.      

I loved the writing, the plot, and the characters of this novel and will read whatever the author writes in the future.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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