Sunday, March 15, 2020

Review: The Operator by Gretchen Berg

Title: The Operator
Author: Gretchen Berg
Published: March 2020, William Morrow
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Booktours

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. . . .

My thoughts: It's no surprise that I love coming across debut novels and this one was such a delightfully fun look back a time when we didn't all have our own individual phones glued to our hands. I grew up in a house with nine people and remember not even having call waiting, so it was fun reliving this time when switchboard operators were still in existence.

I have lived in small towns all my life and so of course I was intrigued by this book and found it delivered on that end all the way. Add in the idea of eavesdropping and gossip, especially from nosy switchboard operators and I was even more intrigued. This book just pulled me in more and more and I loved the way little bits were dangled over us to keep us reading...I found this to not only build the suspense, but also it kept me frantically flipping those pages to find out just what had happened.

I loved the characters in this book, even the ones that weren't so nice. In a small town, everyone thinks they should know everyone else's business - that's one of the things my husband most despises about small-town living - but it's all fun and games until you are the subject of such gossip. And it was fun finding out that even the high and mighty aren't so immune to the gossip after all.

This story was fun to read and quite cleverly crafted. It went back and forth in time to lay out all the pieces and ensure we had the foundation in place so that as the layers started to be peeled back, we understood just what we were learning. It was just the perfect balance of mystery with equal parts humor and gossip and I found I couldn't read it fast enough. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will certainly be keeping an eye out for what Gretchen Berg writes next!



  1. I really love books and i can see your passion and love for books
    please check book review by me on my blog Thanks alot

  2. Adding this to my TBR! I love a good suspense story, especially ones set in pre-smartphone times!


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