What Girls Are Good For: A Novel of Nellie Bly by David Blixt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve been fascinated by Nellie Bly for decades. Maybe it’s because my own (eventually realized) ambition was to be a newspaper reporter. Maybe it’s because she was such an iconoclast. In any event, the interest was there.
I heard author David Blixt speak during the Historical Novel Society conference and decided to grab his book. I’m glad I did; his narrative style in giving voice to Nellie is delightful. We get a good look at Nellie’s life as she remembers things that happened in her childhood, and as she gets her feet wet reporting on various social issues.
Blixt relied heavily on two books I’ve read (10 Days in a Madhouse and Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World) for his sourcing, but was also able to obtain newspaper clippings and other primary source documents to fill in around the edge and present a set of characters who are well-rounded and believable.
The culminating event of the book is Bly’s stay on Blackwell Island and thus the work does not address her around-the-world journey. Honestly, it doesn’t need to. It’s full and complete, engaging, well-written, and jam-packed with historical detail.
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