Gretchen Berg comes to the blog with her fiction debut, a woman’s fiction set in 1950’s Ohio with
Easy and fairly (on the surface) set up: a woman working as a switchboard operator, her habits of ‘listening in” and discovering just how harmful secrets and eavesdropping can be to your sense of self. Curiosity, jealousy and insecurities are emotions that often can lead people astray – and they have done just that for Vivian. Married with a teenaged daughter who is far more clever and well read, Vivian is a bit of the ‘small town busybody’ stereotype: self-important, judgmental, nosey and ALWAYS ready with an answer. Until she doesn’t have one anymore – and discovers that SHE has heard a secret – one that involves her family and is sure to put her at the center of the gossip in this small town for ages to come.
And I’m sure that, like the other women doing the job, no one really “thinks’ they are wrong in listening and even sharing what they learn – after all, what they do is important and knowing your neighbor is as important as knowing yourself. Until that knowledge places you in the seat to be judged, or that your insistence upon your ‘superior knowledge’ of people is shown to be less than stellar, and your entire ‘perception’ of yourself is that little bit of “superior distance’ that you use to shore up your self-esteem. No, I didn’t like Vivian one little bit – and her secret – while I’m sure was traumatizing and dramatic for her, simply seemed like a fit for some of her ‘snap judgments’ and posturing, the surety born of ignorance I guess.
And this is where Berg had me – I didn’t like the character that was primary in the story, I couldn’t rouse much empathy for her, but I needed to know what next – and how, or if, she’d manage to right the ship that had gone so horridly tipsy. Add in a bank embezzlement, attempted robberies, Orson Welles and a hat that was ‘just the thing’ to keep up with the ‘well to do’ woman in town, and the story is a clever expose about gossip, self-delusion, small towns and a bit too much curiosity that serves only to titillate, not enrich.
Title: The Operator
Author: Gretchen Berg
Genre: Family Saga, Historic Woman's Fiction, Second Chance, Setting: American, Small Town
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 10 March, 2020
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 6 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
A clever, surprising, and ultimately moving debut novel, set in a small Midwestern town in the early 1950s, about a nosy switchboard operator who overhears gossip involving her own family, and the unraveling that discovery sets into motion.
In a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business . . .
Nobody knows the people of Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operator Vivian Dalton, and she’d be the first to tell you that. She calls it intuition. Her teenage daughter, Charlotte, calls it eavesdropping.
Vivian and the other women who work at Bell on East Liberty Street connect lines and lives. They aren’t supposed to listen in on conversations, but they do, and they all have opinions on what they hear—especially Vivian. She knows that Mrs. Butler’s ungrateful daughter, Maxine, still hasn’t thanked her mother for the quilt she made, and that Ginny Frazier turned down yet another invitation to go to the A&W with Clyde Walsh.
Then, one cold December night, Vivian listens in on a call between that snob Betty Miller and someone whose voice she can’t quite place and hears something shocking. Betty Miller’s mystery friend has news that, if true, will shatter Vivian’s tidy life in Wooster, humiliating her and making her the laughingstock of the town.
Vivian may be mortified, but she isn’t going to take this lying down. She’s going to get to the bottom of that rumor—get into it, get under it, poke around in the corners. Find every last bit. Vivian wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be.
But as Vivian is about to be reminded, in a small town like Wooster, one secret usually leads to another. . . .
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.