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Red Letter Days

by Sarah-Jane Stratford

Red Letter Days by Sarah-Jane Stratford X
Red Letter Days by Sarah-Jane Stratford
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2020
    400 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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  • George M. (Antioch, CA)
    Fearing the Bogeyman
    Growing up in the 50s I had little awareness that my country was going nuts and that people's lives were being turned inside out and ruined. That families were being torn apart. That American citizens were being persecuted for the political beliefs, or their ethnicity, by the country that I was being taught was the Greatest country EVER.
    Sarah Jane Stratford, in her new novel "Red Letter Days", takes the reader on a journey to our nation's past with a charming and disturbing story of Americans being destroyed by their own government. A story about Americans having to flee the country, unable to work at home, and unable to freely associate with others the government might deem "un-American". Ms. Stratford makes the past come alive and allows the reader to experience the joys, pains and sorrows of average American people who are treated as pariahs by the government, which was heading a national meltdown over dreaded Communism.
    I strongly recommend "Red Letter Days" and hope everyone who reads it takes it to heart.
  • Brenda S. (Winter Haven, FL)
    Another American Mistake
    The pace of this book was perfect. Watching (or reading) the process of finding a person, deciding that person was a Communist, and then ruining that person's life was swift and sad.

    Ms. Stratford obviously did her research and the story was gripping. At one point, I just had to stop reading because I knew it was going to take a sad turn...and I just needed a little time to prepare.

    This book will be recommended to our book club...there is much here to discuss. Thank you!!
  • V Myers (Texas)
    The McCarthy Hearings
    I am happy that I had the chance to read and review this book. I think I need to begin this review by giving a little background. In the era of the McCarthy hearings, I finished high school and began my college education. My life as a college student was vastly different than the life of a college student in today's world. I may have been especially naïve at the time but in 1955 I actually don't think many others my age (at least in West Virginia) followed national news and I don't think anyone I knew even thought of becoming active in politics or in any political organizations or groups. I began living in my sorority house in 1954 and I do not ever remember our new TV set ever being used to watch anything other than entertainment. I remember later hearing a few people talk about the McCarthy hearings and the black listed people but I did not witness those things first hand.

    So I really enjoyed reading this book which made what I had missed back then come alive for me. I think the plot was believable and I felt as if I was given the opportunity to relive those years but this time with my eyes open. I also thought the character development was well done.

    I would recommend that anyone interested in American History read the book. I believe that book clubs could enjoy discussing the book especially comparing the McCarthy hearings to a modern day hearing such as when Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court was being challenged.
  • Ann W. (New York, NY)
    Fear and Loathing
    This was a great read, engaging and pulled me into Phoebe, Joan and Hannah's lives. Based on historical events that I remember well, the HUAC hearing and Red Scare that destroyed the lives of so many people. Stratford deftly narrates the ethical quandaries faced by all. To testify, to escape. Hannah's courage was extraordinary and an important moral and relevant position in the present.
    As a reader, I questioned what I would have done, hindsight is always easy. Stratford's novel explained directly and indirectly uncomfortable and perplexing situations that real people faced in that time. What does it mean to live, to act responsibly in your life and that of others? These questions are answered differently by Hannah, Phoebe and Joan. An enjoyable read.
  • Jean B. (Naples, FL)
    Red Letter Days
    When I was reading Red Letter Days I thought many of the scenes were over-dramatized. Surely, in this country, we were never that complicit with a government that completely disregarded the belief of our founding fathers that citizens had the freedom to have diverse viewpoints. Then I read the Author's Note at the end of the book and discovered that she based the events in her book on actual events! This novel sheds another light on one of the most disturbing times in our history. Hopefully, Red Letter Days will help government and citizens never to allow this to happen again.
  • Gina T. (Natick, MA)
    well-written, Cold War era, historical fiction
    This novel is set in the early Cold War era and did a beautiful job incorporating the devastation of the McCarthy Era investigations in average Americans' lives. Today's politicians freely use the term "witch hunt"; the author does a wonderful job crafting the tale of a real-life witch hunt. It was thrilling, poignant, heartbreaking and yet optimistic. Readers who enjoyed the Alice Network or The Nightingale would enjoy this book with its strong female protagonists.
  • Gail K. (Saratoga Springs, NY)
    Red Letter Days
    In these turbulent political days, Stratford's novel is a timely - and perhaps frightening - work of historical fiction. Set in New York City and London during the Red Scare, this book successfully captures the atmosphere of that bizarre period in history, and I found it easy to become invested in the characters, right up to the suspenseful conclusion. Those who enjoy historical fiction and especially those interested in the horrors of the McCarthy Era are sure to relish this work. A tip: Be sure to read the Author's Notes for a greater appreciation of the authenticity of the book and the depth of the author's meticulous research.
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