White Collar Girl is Renée Rosen’s third historical novel, all of which are set in Chicago. It follows Dollface, a tale of the mob in the Roaring Twenties, and What the Lady Wants, the story of Marshall Field, his mistress, and Chicago after the Great Fire in 1871. Both were clever novels that Chicagoans should savor. Rosen’s third book shows her growth as an author and perfectly captures 1950s Chicago life and politics under the new Daley machine. Jordan Walsh is a young reporter for the Chicago Tribune who yearns to escape the “society” pages for real news especially the graft and corruption of the city. Her boyfriend is jealous of her success, she gets little support from her family, and her inexperience causes her to make some consequential errors.
When Jordan begins to delve into the story that her brother who was killed by a hit-and-run driver was investigating before he died, she won’t let it go. Her father says she has the family curse. "That's what reporters do. We question. We probe. We go into those dark places that scare everyone else. They even scare us, but we still do it because we have to. We just have to."
If you’re looking for something to fill the void now that Peggy from Mad Men has vanished from your TV screen, this tale perfectly evokes the times and the roles women played in the 1950s. It’s a meticulously researched view of Chicago politics yet it’s also a compelling page-turner.
I’ve lived in the Chicago area since 1970 and I remember living and working in the city during the first Mayor Daley’s reign. Rosen captures the times, the scandals, the players, and the difficulty women had gaining respect in the workplace in a town ruled by “good old boys.”
Summing it Up: Chicagoans will devour this as they revisit Riccardo’s, the Berghoff, and other places Rosen evokes perfectly. Readers without Chicago connections will find this glimpse of the politics and corruption of Chicago both informative and entertaining.
Readers living in or near Chicago will be able to hear Rosen speak at a host of events listed here.
Rating: 4 stars
Category: Fiction, Dessert, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Pigeon Pie, Super Nutrition, Book Club
Publication date: November 3, 2015
Author Website: http://reneerosen.com/
What Others are Saying:
Booklist: “Informed by interviews with the real-life journalists of the era and brimming with historical detail, Rosen’s tale zooms Walsh through a combination of investigative derring-do, a family tragedy, and various romantic complications. … White Collar Girl is a riveting read, both as a trip back to the misogynistic workplaces of the Mad Men era and as an enjoyable look at a scrappy street reporter doing her work.”
White Collar Girl is an unforgettable novel about an ambitious woman’s struggle to break into the male-dominated newspaper world of the 1950s.
Sara Gruen, New York Times Bestselling Author of Water for Elephants