I graduated from Journalism School in 1977 and immediately got a job as a reporter on a small-town newspaper. Even in 1977, journalism was largely a man’s world. Though my editor was a woman, she was likely editor because her father owned the newspaper. She and I were the only two women in the entire organization.
Given all of this, I was interested in reading White Collar Girl, a novel by Renee Rosen. Rosen is the author of three other books, all of which take place in Chicago, as did White Collar Girl. This novel takes on the world of journalism in the 1950s, when being a woman reporter was nearly unheard of except for the society pages.
The novel’s protagonist, Jordan Walsh, is the child of two reporters-cum-authors, both of whom were quite successful in their own right back in the day. Jordan’s brother had also been a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, but died mysteriously in a hit-and-run accident that didn’t seem to be very well-investigated by the Chicago Police Department. The Walsh family has never quite come to grips with his death.
So Jordan is proud and pleased to be offered a job with the Chicago Tribune, thinking this, finally, would bring her family out of their depression. She is ambitious, and while she is hired to work on the so-called women’s pages, she is optimistic that she will be able to become an ace general news reporter through hard work and great writing.
Things aren’t going along very well until Jordan finds a confidential source who is feeding her such good information that she finally captures the attention of the editors. Through grit and tenacity, she begins to build her own success. However, the source quickly helps her realize that her brother’s death was certainly no accident, and she might be next.
I wanted to like this book. I mean, look at the cover. It’s beautiful. I loved the period feel to the novel. I think the author totally captured the way life was in the 1950s, particularly for women. I loved her descriptions of the clothes and the city and the cars and the attitudes and the frustrations Jordan met along the way.
I just didn’t love the book. I can’t say it was awful, mostly for the reasons stated above. But the writing was so slow. It seemed as though I would read and read and read and only get through a few pages. The mystery of her brother’s death was fairly predictable, and the ending was abrupt and weird, almost like the author got just as tired of writing the book as I did reading it and just wrapped it up quickly.
Much as I would like, I simply can’t overwhelmingly recommend this novel.