Amid the glitz and glamour of 1950s New York, Phoebe Adler pursues her dream of screenwriting. A dream that turns into a living nightmare when she is blacklisted—caught in the Red Menace that is shattering the lives of suspected Communists. Desperate to work, she escapes to London, determined to keep her dream alive and clear her good name.
Stratford has created a cast of strong women ... Stratford has a keen eye for everyday historical details, including black Bakelite phones (often tapped by the FBI) and the different brands of cigarettes smoked on both sides of the Atlantic. She also explores the most insidious effect of the blacklist: the constant fear and mistrust, which affects not only those pursued by HUAC, but also their colleagues, families and friends ... Well plotted and moving, with witty characters and an unnervingly timely storyline, Red Letter Days is smart, satisfying historical fiction at its best.
There is a bit too much melodrama as the narrative unwinds—especially in the story of the FBI agent on Phoebe’s trail—but that is only a quibble alongside the thoroughly fascinating and too-little-known story of Hannah Weinstein and her role in supporting blacklisted Americans, regardless of gender or race.
... crisp ... Phoebe’s hair-raising escape from HUAC’s condemnation offers a James Bond–like finish to Stratford’s bracing adventure that effortlessly melds politics, romance, and history. This delivers on every level.