Review: The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall


Release date: July 10, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Historical Fiction


In 1949, dutiful and ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help out with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend—the intriguing and gorgeous fellow-participant Rose—does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.

Nearly 70 years later, outspoken advertising executive Olivia is pitching the NYC subways account in a last ditch effort to save her job at an advertising agency. When the charismatic boss she’s secretly in love with pits her against her misogynistic nemesis, Olivia’s urgent search for the winning strategy leads her to the historic Miss Subways campaign. As the pitch date closes in on her, Olivia finds herself dealing with a broken heart, an unlikely new love interest, and an unexpected personal connection to Miss Subways that could save her job—and her future.

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition.


This book totally enchanted me, I was swept away to NYC, both past and present, and to me, that’s the hallmark of well written historical fiction. Since I’m fairly new to the genre I’ve been dabbling and trying to see what I like the most and I think I can firmly say that anything with a dual, alternating timeline seems to engross me the most and Orman Schnall charmed me the whole way through.

Charlotte is the protagonist in the 1940’s section and Olivia is for the 2018 sections and I equally enjoyed both of these woman for their tenacity and strength alone, but they both had several other wonderful qualities as well. Charlotte was a sweet young lady trying to start her career in an extremely sexist era, but man was her determination inspiring. Olivia clearly had many more opportunities than Charlotte, but she was also an inspiring woman, firm in her convictions and fun to boot. Their storylines merged in mostly surprising ways even though I did piece a few things together, nothing big and definitely nothing that detracted from my enjoyment whatsoever.

The historical piece of the Miss Subways contest was fascinating to me, I’ve never heard of this before and found it to be so interesting. It seems like a concept that was ahead of the times in some ways and so sexist in others. I can definitely understand why it was so popular and also why so many young New York women competed for the opportunity to be a Miss Subways girl, especially as any opportunities for young women were few and far between during that time period. This is one of those carefree, easy reads that make for a perfect summer choice, you can’t go wrong grabbing this if you want a light, fun and engaging read.

The Subway Girls in three words: Charming, Sweet and Inspiring.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

11 thoughts on “Review: The Subway Girls by Susie Orman Schnall

  1. Amanda @Cover2CoverMom says:

    Hey girl!!! Since I’ve been so MIA from the bookish community, I haven’t heard of this one, BUT it sounds like my cup or tea! I recently read Radio Girls, which is about women and their role in BBC radio during the early years. It was fascinating. What makes me think of it now was that I found it empowering & inspirational as a woman, which is the vibe I’m getting from this novel.

    Liked by 1 person

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