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Red Letter Days

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  492 ratings  ·  135 reviews
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 femal
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by Berkley
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
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Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 com
Katie B
3.5 stars

Even 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. Pe
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 t
Joan Happel
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 chara ...more
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.
Amy Imogene Reads
3.5 stars

Two 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 muc
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
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 seve
Susan Jaffe Pober
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
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.
The Library Lady
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 ha
Maine Colonial
In the 1950s, there was a dangerous Communist under every bed, including those in radio, movies and television, at least if you believed gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and the members of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Actors, directors and writers were regularly hauled in for a HUAC show trial. The result of failure to cooperate was jail for contempt of congress, and many were blacklisted, losing their ability to work in the US. Blacklisted members of the entertainment community ofte ...more
Katie Mccormick
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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!
Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-tbr
Red Letter Days

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
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fun read. I read this in one weekend.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-books, netgalley
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
Vasos Vassiliou
Very interesting piece of history

Very interesting piece of history. The reason I like historical fiction really. The characters could use a bit of further development. It seems that the book ends in a rush. The British aristocrat appears like a Deus ex machina and resolves the issues.
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
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 ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
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!
Irena Papst
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
i’m not usually interested in historical fiction, but i found myself (mostly) gripped by this story. it was slow at times and parts of the end felt a little inconsistent with the rest of the story (specifically hannah’s denouement), but i liked the attention to detail and how carefully the time period was woven into the story.
Lisa of Hopewell
Nov 14, 2019 marked it as to-read
I learned of this book here: ...more
Sara Riley Piotrowski
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It had strong, female characters based on women who were blacklisted.
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Virginia Myers
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
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 mi
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Weird. My review disappeared. This is a historical novel about the Hollywood Blacklist told from the POV of two women. One of the characters is based on Hannah Weinstein and her Sapphire Films company.
Shreedevi Gurumurty
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A striking novel about two daring women who escape McCarthy-era Hollywood for London, where they find creative freedom and fight the injustices of the Red Scare. When two brave women flee from the Communist Red Scare, they soon discover that no future is free from the past. Amid the glitz and glamour of the mid 1950s in America-New York 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 single, female tel ...more
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Sarah-Jane Stratford is the author of Radio Girls. Her work has also appeared in the Guardian, the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Review of Books, Marie Claire, Bustle, Guernica, and many others. She is inordinately pleased to have written for knitting magazines as well.

In 2017, Sarah-Jane was awarded a Tier One Highly Talented Visa from the Arts Council in Britain. Formerly a resident of both American

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