The Operator – Gretchen Berg
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 the thing about small towns is, one secret tends to lead to another…
I would first like to thank Anne from Random Things Tours for inviting me on the blog tour for this book, and Headline for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to check out the other stops on the tour, please check out the details at the bottom of this post.
Despite some people denying it, most human beings love a bit of gossip. It is just one of those inherently human things – we love to know what other people are up to and can’t help but be a bit nosy sometimes. Gretchen Berg’s debut novel The Operator highlights this need that some people have to gossip, and the impact that it can have.
Vivian Dalton works as a switchboard operator in Wooster, Ohio, and has done so for many years. Vivian and her colleagues do not play by the rules; they certainly aren’t meant to listen in on the phone calls that they connect, but sometimes they just can’t help it. Vivian is an intriguing character, to say the least. First and foremost, Vivian Dalton does not like to be made to feel like a fool, which is exactly what happens when she overhears a phone call with shocking information that pertains to her directly. Gretchen Berg does a brilliant job with creating suspense about this piece of gossip, and I was not disappointed by the reveal.
The Operator is a slow burn that piqued my interest. I was not only intrigued by the gossip about Vivian, but also by a side plot concerning a bank robbery in the town. For a small town, there is certainly a lot going on in Wooster, Ohio! While it isn’t a fast-paced novel, the fascinating characters and intriguing storylines kept me interested from start to finish. I love how the differing storylines ended up being connected in a satisfying and unexpected way. Gretchen Berg is a talented writer, and I am keen to see what she writes in the future.
I recommend this book for those who enjoy character-driven stories with a bit of suspense, as well as fans of The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.
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.