The Operator by Gretchen Berg

From the Publisher: "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: As “The Operator” demonstrates, living in a small town brings with it the good and the bad. As telephone operators in Wooster, sometimes listening in to calls to learn the latest gossip is exciting - that is, unless the call is gossip about you and your family.

Vivian is the protagonist in this story and is a well-developed and interesting character - right down to her love of “Revlon Fire and Ice” lipstick and nail colour. Her story is set primarily in the 1950’s but the author provides insight into her earlier life as a teenager and young bride. There are many humorous moments which demonstrated Vivian’s free-spirit - I laughed out loud when she cleared her switchboard of cables in one sweep of her arm.

The book kept me entertained throughout and I couldn’t wait to see how several of the town’s mysteries would unfold. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it for those readers who enjoy a lighter, humorous read.

Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow for the ARC of this book in exchange for the honest review provided here.
My rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5.

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