Take a look at this debut novel by Gretchen Berg that was just published this week on 3/3/20. If you read it, or have already read it, I’d love to hear what you think. Read my thoughts after the back cover synopsis included below.
• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 10, 2020)
“What if you could listen in on any phone conversation in town? With great humor and insight, The Operator by Gretchen Berg delivers a vivid look inside the heads and hearts of a group of housewives and pokes at the absurdities of 1950s America, a simpler time that was far from simple. Think The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in the suburbs with delicious turns of jealousy, infidelity, bigotry, and embezzlement thrown in for good measure. The Operator is irresistible!” — Kathryn Stockett, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Help
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. . . .
“One ring-dingy (snort)”
Remember Ernestine? OMG Lily Tomlin is ‘da bomb. For those of you who don’t know who Ernestine is, just take that phone you have right there in your hand and google “Ernestine” and “Rowan&Martin.” This is comedy at its finest.
Why am I talking about a comedy sketch character? Because I just read THE OPERATOR BY Gretchen Berg, and I am getting all the Ernestine vibes. This book is wonderful. It has everything I absolutely love right here in one story. The fact that I was laughing out loud by page 5 was a sure sign to me that this book was going to be amazeballs. Gossip AND Snark people, I mean COME ON, its a ride on the Gina express with a clever storyline.
Berg’s writing is smooth and comfortable, almost like sitting around with your family and listening to them talk. (Or in my case bicker, maybe thats your case too). She has the uncanny ability to make you feel like you are inside the story, as if it is real life happening around you, and you know every character like they are your own neighbors. I was completely absorbed in this one, and if this is the way she always writes, I cant wait to read what she comes up with next.
I highly recommend picking this one up, its such a charged read. You’ll love it.
Thank you to @williamorrowbooks, Gretchen Berg and @TLCBookTours for my gifted copy of this book.
About Gretchen Berg
Gretchen spent many years working in the fields of education and travel. Her parents had always encouraged her to write, but she waited until she heard “you are a writer” from more trustworthy advisors: a London psychic, and a taxicab driver in Athens, Greece. The taxicab driver also said they had been lovers in a previous life.
After writing a humorous memoir in 2010 Gretchen ventured into the field of genealogy, where she compiled narratives and research reports for clients, while also working on her family’s history. It was during her family research that she came across an interesting bit of information that, when expanded upon, became her debut novel, The Operator
Happy Reading and Be Nice!