#Blogtour The Operator by Gretchen Berg #GretchenBerg @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheOperator

The Operator by Gretchen Berg
Headline March 3rd 2020

An irresistible, uplifting and warm-hearted novel about a 1950s switchboard operator who learns a shocking secret about her marriage when she eavesdrops on a scandalous phone conversation
It’s 1952. The switchboard operators in Wooster, Ohio, love nothing more than to snoop on their neighbours’ conversations, and gossip about what they learn. Vivian Dalton is no different (despite her teenage daughter’s disapproval), and always longs to hear something more outrageous than the monotonous discussions about quilting and makeup tips.
But on the night of December 15th, she wishes she hadn’t listened in on Betty Miller’s call with an unknown stranger because what Vivian hears rips the rug of her life out from under her. Vivian may be mortified, but she’s determined to find out who the unfamiliar voice belongs to, and why they are trying to ruin her life. And the thing about small towns is, one secret tends to lead to another …
THE OPERATOR vividly captures small town dynamics as it takes us down Vivian’s rocky path towards reinvention and compassion. In this moving, heart-felt and uplifting narrative, unexpected friendships, family tensions and a marriage shaped by secrets are brought brilliantly to life, in an utterly satisfying read from a dazzling new writer.

My Review

Ok, hands up I will admit I love a good old gossip and a job as a telephone operator would have been a dream job! It was Vivian’s dream until she heard what she shouldn’t have heard and this formed the crux of Berg’s wonderful story.

Vivian was your typical 1950’s housewife, with a hard working husband, the perfect daughter and a clean house. I loved her daughters disdain for her seeming lack of intelligence, the world of books a long way from Vivian’s preferred show biz and gossip magazines. You almost viewed her with the same disdain, her superficial view of the world a little annoying, that was until the fateful night and Berg began to reveal a different Vivian.

This was where the story began to get interesting, the myriad layers of secrets that festered below the surface of small town Wooster were like a volcano waiting to erupt. You wanted to how and when secrets would emerge but Berg made us wait as Vivian began her investigations, as other characters crept into the narrative all with their own parts to play.

They were not characters I didn’t warm to but added brilliant colour and a little bit of spice. I particularly loathed Betty, her queen bee status that ruled the town, her vicious vindictiveness that saw many crumble and fall out of favour. It showcased the small town mentality of Wooster, of the claustrophobic cauldron of bitchiness it harboured.

The secrets slowly tumbled out, characters fell by the wayside, others rose above and triumphed. For Vivian it was almost a blessing, an opportunity to look at who she was, what she had become, to restart her life and indeed her family. I cheered at her resourcefulness, at her inner strength and resolve and my disdain turned to admiration and respect.

What I didn’t realise until I read the notes at the back was that some of the novel was loosely based on Berg’s Grandmother’s life. It added a wonderful authenticity and appreciation for the authors ability to pen such a wonderful story. I absolutely loved it.

I would like to thank Headline for a copy of The Operator to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Gretchen Berg grew up in the US Midwest and now lives in Oregon. She has always been curious about history and family dynamics, and has a personal family tree of over 16,000 people. Her family research started with her own grandmother’s little brown notebook full of details, and it was the story of her grandmother – herself a switchboard operator in Wooster, Ohio, in the 1950’s – that inspired this book and partly provides an authenticity to the narrative.
THE OPERATOR is her astonishingly accomplished first novel with a vibrant narrative full of brilliantly portrayed characters, surprise plot twists, and a deftly handled exploration of the issues of class and race relations in 1950’s America.

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