The Operator by Gretchen Berg book review

It’s 1952. The switchboard operators in Wooster, Ohio, love nothing more than to eavesdrop 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 scandalous. But on the night of December 15th, she wishes she hadn’t. The secret that’s shared by a stranger on the line threatens to rip the rug of Vivian’s life from under her. Vivian may be mortified, but she’s not going to take this lying down. She wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be. But one secret tends to lead to another . . .

This moving, heart-felt and ultimately uplifting novel brilliantly weaves together an irresistible portrayal of a town buzzing with scandal, and an unforgettable story of marriage, motherhood and the unbreakable ties of family.

What did I think?

I mean, who hasn’t overheard something they shouldn’t?

The Operator is a lighthearted read where gossip and scandal run rampant. Set in the 1950s, The Operator follows Vivian Dalton, a switchboard operator who uses her job to spy on callers and peer into the lives of her neighbours – innocently of course. While the gossip usually isn’t very juicy, one night Vivian overhears a call that changes things forever.

Vivian overhears her frenemy Betty Miller and a stranger discussing a secret about Vivian’s family, a secret that if it got out would destroy Vivian’s world. While angry at first, Vivian makes it her mission to find out if the information can be trusted.

Set in present tense, Berg does a great job of throwing us into the past where we learn more about Vivian’s childhood and relationship with her family. We also get to learn more about Betty Miller, her family and how their relationship became what it is today.

While I think the author did a great job of making you interested in Vivian and her journey, there were parts of Betty’s involvement that weren’t overly enjoyable. The side story also doesn’t make sense in its entirety until the end of the book but once you get there, the story wraps up with a neat little bow. What she did excel at was throwing you deep into the 1950s. The descriptions of the fashion and cars plus the type of language they use quickly throws you back in time – it’s absolutely delightful.

3.5/5 stars

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