I don’t know about you, but there’s a gap in my knowledge when it comes to World War I, and even more so when it comes to the role women played in World War I. This well-researched, emotional, fast-paced novel fills in those gaps with a combination of fiction and facts to satisfy my curiosity and honor my love of a good story.
Girls On The Line begins with Ruby Wagner on the Main Line of Philadelphia where society is the norm and expectations for conformity are high. (Since I was raised in Philadelphia, I can tell you it’s a fair representation of the historic Main Line area.) Against her mother’s wishes, Ruby works as a telephone operator and then, after her brother is killed in battle, she tests for the Army Signal Corps and passes.
In this story, Runyan deftly takes us from Philadelphia to New York, and then overseas, where Ruby is stationed in France and tapped as a leader. As Ruby builds friendships and gains self-confidence outside the confines of her family and social mores, she feels called to act – not only on behalf of her country but for herself. She’s no longer the twenty-four-year-old debutante. Through war, friendship, and love, Ruby discovers what’s truly important.
I thoroughly enjoyed the little-known history throughout this story. I really got to know Ruby and the other switchboard operators and understand what they were going through—the commonplace and the treacherous. It gave me an appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices of these young women. That being said, the history was only part of the story’s lure. Runyan created realistic and relatable characters and posed enough gunfire, stolen kisses, and bedbugs to have me whipping through the pages when I should have been working. Or sleeping.
It’s just what I look for in a historical fiction read.
Girls On The Line is available for purchase.
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ABOUT AIMIE K. RUNYAN:
Aimie K. Runyan is an author of historical fiction that highlights previously uncelebrated contributions of women at key moments in history. Her first novel, Promised To The Crown came out in 2016 from Kensington Books. She has an M.A. in French from the University of North Texas and has spent time living in Bayeux and Avignon, France as well as Quebec City and Montreal during the course of her studies and research. She was able to uncover the material needed for her debut novel while on a research trip to Quebec financed by a generous grant from the Association des Études Québécoises She loves travel, music, and books above almost all things. She lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and two adorable children.