Growing up in the time period during which White Collar Girl is set, I was prepared for the struggle Jordan Walsh faced as she entered the City Room of the Chicago Tribune for the first time. Newspapers and publishing were male-dominated during those days. It was almost as if a woman walked in, the jokes started, and she began an uphill climb, or she quit.
Not Jordan Walsh. With a family background in the newspaper business, Jordan determines to rise to the top. Her character is well crafted, and a sense of some male respect comes through from time to time. However, it is clear Jordan will have to face dangers and criminals to get where she wants to be. This plot line keeps suspense moving and the reader engaged.
With a smattering of names those of us old enough to recognize, like Mike Royko, Nelson Ahlgren, and Ernest Hemingway, not to mention Mayor Daley, we get a sense of the history of the times. Chicago was a ruthless town politically in the 1950s. Jordan desperately wants to bring home THE story and thus improve her standing among the men, and not spend her time attending society weddings, writing recipe columns, and running down sightings of the elite at night. She takes chances despite warnings from her father, a former newspaper man himself, against the chances she takes.
These paragraphs describe the best of the book. I did have a few problems with it, as much as I would like to give it a topnotch rating. The language was not as reminiscent of the 1950s-1960s as I feel it should have been, but sounded a bit too up-to-date for the time period. Also, Jordan’s relationship with her boyfriend segues in and out too often, although Jordan’s profession places relationships on the line and needed to be treated in this book. Just not so often. And lastly, this work very well could be categorized as historical fiction. If so, it needed to give its reader greater authenticity when it came to place and the history taking place in Chicago, i.e. more than public figures and names.
And even after all that, I recommend this book to you because it is interesting for a certain level of reader, and Jordan’s character will make women who have struggled to the top proud, except for Jordan’s constant sacrificial state of mind. If you enjoy newspaper history and the role of male vs. female in a male-dominated industry in the 1950s, you’ll enjoy (or hate) some of the interactions between Jordan and her male cohorts. Renee Rosen has done a fine job of writing this story. It just needed some fine-tuning and ramping up in a few areas.