GIRLS ON THE LINE by Aimie Runyan is a beautifully written novel about a group of groundbreaking women who volunteered to join the Army Signal Corps as telephone operators and then risked their lives to travel overseas to the war zone. These women – known as “Hello Girls” – played an important role in the Allied Forces victory at the conclusion of The Great War. The novel is due out on November 6th 2018 by Brilliance Audio.
Twenty-four year old Ruby Wagner is the only daughter of a prominent Philadelphian family. Almost every aspect of her life has been dictated by her parents – including her engagement to the son of another Main Line family. Ruby’s sole act of rebellion against her parents is her work as a switchboard operator for the local telephone company. When her brother is killed in action during The Great War, Ruby defies her parents and her fiancé to join the Army Signal Corps as a telephone operator. After being trained, Ruby, along with a group of other women, is sent over to war-torn France to help the Allied Forces during the last few months of the war. Ruby and the other women face the dangers of war and the unfair discrimination from the men in the Army. Ruby also meets an Army medic whom she falls in love with. As the war reaches its conclusion, Ruby must decide if she will return to the life that her parents have chosen for her or if she will continue to take control of her own life and her future.
GIRLS ON THE LINE is a wonderful, emotional novel. The story is told through Ruby Wagner’s first person point of view. This allows the reader to see everything through her eyes as gains her independence, grows as a person, and takes control of her life. Ruby is a very strong, enjoyable character. This novel takes place during the years before women were given the right to vote, and Runyan shows the struggle that these women faced to earn respect and be taken seriously. The friendships and animosities between the women add an extra layer to the story, as does Ruby’s blossoming romance with the Army medic. What I particularly enjoyed is that the novel didn’t end when The Great War did. Runyan continued Ruby’s story in the months and years after the war – showing Ruby’s small contributions to the rebuilding of the war-torn Europe, as well as the “Hello Girls” fight to be recognized as members of the Army and the American women’s eventual victory when they were finally given the right to vote.
The novel is well-written and the attention to detail is outstanding. Runyan did her research, and she brings to life the era and the war. Runyan’s focus on the details of the war, society, fashion, slang, and everything else is amazing.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.