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The Operator by Gretchen Berg ★★★★☆

Published :10th March 2020

Publisher : Headline

Format : Kindle, Paperback, Hardback, Audio

Genre : Historical Fiction


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.


My Review

Thank you so much Headline for this amazing hardback copy, I have enjoyed every single page and every single secret that has came through the telephone line...

This was a great read, if historical fiction is your thing then you get full doses of it in this one.

Throughout the story you are regaled with fascinating details from the 30's 40's and 50's.

The story is based around Vivian, a content wife and mum to a teenage daughter living in a small town that separates the classes, those that have money and those that do not.

Vivian has a job as a telephone operator that isn't greatly paid but allows the family the occasional luxury from time to time. As you can imagine working in a position where you are connecting calls back and fourth all day the gossip is rife, especially where she lives and works and one day Vivian overhears a call from a woman in a high society position that involves gossip about Vivians husband, as you can imagine she thinks that this will be the ruin of her marriage and break them apart, but not all is what she thinks..

The story jumps back and fourth with flashbacks to her childhood, one of five she had to give up her education and take the job at the telephone exchange to help support her parents. True to the era there is obvious racial bigotry and the upper class white people are getting everything they deserve and more but as for the foreign working class, they get treated with the disrespect of that era which always annoys me when I read about that side of history as I am appalled by it all.

I really liked Vivians character, even though she was not an educated woman she is loyal, full to the brim with personality and like all of us loves a bit of gossip.

I found this a light hearted read that made me smile, I especially like the recipes and entries dotted throughout, I found this a lovely touch that added a homeliness to it.

If you are after a light hearted read that does not get to serious then this one is definitely for you.


Purchase Links




Meet the author

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. THE OPERATOR is her astonishingly accomplished first novel with a vibrant narrative full of brilliantly portrayed characters, surprise plot twists, and a deftly handled exploration of the issues of class and race relations in 1950’s America.


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Books by this author

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All books that I have added all include a purchase link when clicked on.

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