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The Operator [Large Print] Paperback – Large Print, 23 March 2020
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|Paperback, Large Print, 23 March 2020||
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A perfect evocation of small town America, complete with all its bitchy rivalry, petty snobberies, secret affairs and a few seismic scandals.--Sunday Mirror
Berg's debut novel captures the plucky spirit of a 1950's telephone operator, the charm of a Midwest small town, and the secrets that threaten to change both of them forever . . . . Fans of Fannie Flagg or Katerina Bivald's The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend will soak up the small town flavor.--Booklist
Funny, sweet, secretive, and full of fascinating 1930s, '40s, and '50s period details. . . . A poignant look at life in a small town with its nosy neighbors, thorny families, imperfect romances, scandalous pasts, and gratifyingly just desserts. Nothing is as simple--nor as dreadful--as it seems. --Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author
In this well-plotted comic drama of small-town life, Berg combines the technicolour gloss of a Cary Grant film with the humdrum humour of Garrison Keillor. She keeps the surprises coming right until the end. --Daily Mail (UK)
With great humor and insight, The Operator by Gretchen Berg delivers a vivid look inside the heads and hearts of a group of housewives and pokes at the absurdities of 1950s America, a simpler time that was far from simple. Think 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' in the suburbs -- with delicious turns of jealousy, infidelity, bigotry, and embezzlement thrown in for good measure. The Operator is irresistible!--Kathryn Stockett, author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Help
"Berg's storytelling is warm, sympathetic and witty. . . . There are more than enough quotable lines to fill a couple of reviews."--Kirkus Reviews
"I finished reading The Operator in an unstoppable rush and it was every bit as glorious, gossipy, delicious, and perfect as I'd hoped. Absolutely heaven!"--Jill Mansell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Maybe This Time
"The Operator is a fun, light and intriguing story, [with] several edge-of-your-seat moments . . . Berg does succeed at making the reader want to keep turning the pages to find out Vivian's big secret - as well as the consequences when all is revealed."--Associated Press
"[W]hat began as an unassuming story about life in a small town turns into an exploration of identity and family in 1950s Ohio. . . . highlights the diversity of life experiences often overlooked in recollections of the time. This original look at Midwestern life is recommended."--Historical Novel Society
About the Author
Gretchen Berg was born on the East Coast, raised in the Midwest, and spent a number of years in the Pacific Northwest. She has taught English in South Korea and in Northern Iraq and has traveled to all the other continents. A graduate of Iowa State University, she lives in Chicago, Illinois. The Operator is her first novel.
- Publisher : HarperCollins - US; Large type / Large print edition (23 March 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062978942
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062978943
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 2.74 x 22.86 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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From backward glances to life during the Depression to the present days of the novel Gretchen Berg really skewers the details and mindsets of the time. Particularly enjoyable is the vicious hypocrisy of Betty Miller - the young matron - who can piously assert herself at church while meanly plotting against Vivian. Central to the story is the embezzlement of $250,000 from the local bank run by the Mayor and the successful absconding to Canada by the two employees who pulled it off. Also important is the rivalry between Vivian and her older sister Vera. Small town life with its wholesomeness and narrow-mindedness is wonderfully evoked. Later in the novel we get glimpses of the underbelly of this seemingly serene society, where women pattern themselves on movie stars and stoic men bring home the bacon. The betrayals of trust, the forgiveness, the new beginnings are actually quite Shakespearean. Note: the recipes and much else are from Berg’s grandmother. 4.5 stars.
Top reviews from other countries
The story centres on Vivian who works at the switchboard. Vivian is obsessed with being seen and being values in society but when she listens in to a switchboard phone call and finds out a secret that is about her Vivian begins to understand the adage be careful what you wish for. Her small town world is about to be completely rocked.
Whilst this is a fascinating look at the lives in a small town in America – one that demands social etiquette and rules – I did find the whole thing rather boring and slow placed, however, it is arguable that given the time frame things didn’t work at a speedy pace, it wouldn’t make sense to do so.
Either way, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted too. I think that the cover oversold the story which is a shame.
The Operator is an interesting read but it did not blow me away.
I'm not familiar, beyond the usual television cliches, with 1950s America but the setting of the book is well realised. It feels "authentic" enough and it's easy enough to lose yourself in it.
The concept is nothing new (switchboard operators listening in to the calls they put through every day and gossiping) and the twist that on one such occasion someone hear's more than they should is hardly unheard of either (I'm thinking of any number of interchangeable ITV World War II drama's) but it's handled well and with a style that keeps you reading.
I wouldn't say it's a novel that is too concerned with digging deep into the time and making any sort of moral or political judgements on the times it is portraying. To many, me included, that will come as a blessing. It's more concerned with giving us a story than it is about preaching to us. That's not to say that the social and racial tensions of the times are missing, just that they are not overly pushed to the forefront for the most part.
As seems de rigueur these days there's time hopping in the story and flashbacks and all that. I can't instantly recall the last book of this type I read that didn't use that narrative device.
Whilst not breaking any new ground this is an entertaining read that was never a chore to keep going with. A perfectly pleasant way to pass a few hours, which perhaps takes on even more importance in times like this when the sun is shining and we're confined to our houses/back garden.