by Gretchen Berg
It’s my stop on the “The Operator” blog tour! Headline Review have provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and a big thank you goes to Anne Cater for the invite. If you’d like to learn more about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour, see what people have to say on Goodreads and head over to the author’s website.
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. . . .
Vivian Dalton works as a switchboard operator in Wooster, Ohio, a small town where everyone knows everything about one another. I’d never really thought about how a switchboard would work in the 1950s before reading this book so I was fascinated to learn that the operator once had the ability to listen in on the conversation, and could spy on their neighbours, should they so desire.
Vivian often listens in to conversations, usually hearing the mundane everyday calls of the local people, but one day she hears a juicy secret about her own family that she wishes she could unhear.
This is a character based story mostly centered round Vivian. She’s a mother, a wife and a sister, she’s full of personality and she lives for a bit of gossip. She’s intelligent but uneducated and often has to look up words in her daughter’s dictionary to understand what people are talking about.
This was a fun read and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into what life was like in the 1950s. I also really enjoyed the author’s use of different modes to help tell the story, for example dictionary entries, newspaper articles and recipes scattered throughout. Learning that this story is loosely based on the author’s grandmother was a nice touch too.
I did found the book to be a little slow paced and I wonder if this was down to the writing style as in general there was more telling than showing happening here, but in general this was a good read for me. It’s always nice to read something that’ll put a smile on your face!
Overall rating: “The Operator” is a light-hearted, entertaining story set in Ohio during the 1950s. Vivian Dalton is a fascinating leading lady and the secrets she uncovers are pretty interesting too. It’s 4 stars from me!
Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if you like what you’ve read about it, support the author by picking up a copy on Kindle or Paperback through Amazon UK or your local bookshop.