Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Audio Review: The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Passion, redemption, and a battered suitcase full of secrets: the New York Times-bestselling author of A Hundred Summers returns with another engrossing tale.

Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Mad Men world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family’s past, and the hushed-over crime passionnel of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history.

Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. The arrival of Dr. Grant’s magnetic former student at the beginning of Europe’s fateful summer interrupts this delicate détente. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband’s perverse hold, and as the world edges into war and Lionel’s shocking true motives become evident, Violet is tempted to take the ultimate step to set herself free and seek a life of her own conviction with a man whose cause is as audacious as her own.

As the iridescent and fractured Vivian digs deeper into her aunt’s past and the mystery of her ultimate fate, Violet’s story of determination and desire unfolds, shedding light on the darkness of her years abroad . . . and teaching Vivian to reach forward with grace for the ambitious future––and the love––she wants most.
Published May 27th 2014 by G.P. Putnam's Sons 
audiobook from library (via overdrive)
14 hours 42 mins 
paperback - 503 pages

Beatriz Williams is a new author to me as is Kathleen McInerney (the reader of this the audio version).  McInerney does a wonderful job here, she brings this story to life and I was not disappointed.

Told in 1st person with the story weaving back and forth in time, it all began with a suitcase.  I love a longer book, when done correctly the author has time to develop characters, to create a plot without rushing and to create twists and turns not always predictable.  Such was the case with The Secret Life of Violet Grant

Vivian is funny, spunky and a spitfire but there is also a sensitive compassionate person, with her telling the current time period story I found it to be very entertaining.

I struggled at the beginning in understanding Violet.  The 1910's was a tough era for women.  For Violet to leave her family, travel to Europe to study physics told me that she was a strong independent 'ahead of her time' type and I really couldn't figure out how she allowed the situation with Grant to take place.  Once I got past that I enjoyed this side of the book.  Also the ending was one I didn't expect, it had some twists that I didn't see coming and I love when an author does that.

There are 3 sisters in the Schuyler family, with this book we see Vivian's story.  You can read more of the other two in these 2 books (clicking on them will take you to their Goodreads page. 

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