Review by Ann McDonald
Passion, redemption, and a battered suitcase full of secrets: the New York Times-bestselling author of A Hundred Summers returns with another engrossing tale.
It is 1964 and we meet Vivian Schular, a young talented woman from a wealthy New York family who reside in Manhattan. She works for Metropolitan Magazine, wanting to become a writer, much against her family’s wishes. She has an apartment, shared with another girl in Greenwich Village, top floor, very dingy but affordable for Vivian who gets a very lowly wage as a proof reader at her magazine firm.
It is 1912 and Violet Grant, a young brilliant woman, is determined to further her career as a physicist, a field that is dominated by by the male gender. She goes to great lengths to procure a place at a reputable university, much against the wishes of her very wealthy family. Research is her mission and she achieves it.
Vivian’s story begins with her receiving a card from her local post office to collect a parcel forthwith. She heads off and once she arrives, a very funny scenario ensues. She ends up collecting a very large suitcase and cannot move it until a tall, handsome man in scrubs helps her out and carries it for her to her apartment, on the top floor! The valise, it turns out, belonged to her great Aunt Violet and the German government found it in one of their departments and sent it on.
But Vivian has never heard of her, apparently, she is a dark secret that no one in the family wants to discuss and that is the bedrock of this novel. Vivian is determined to find out what happened and the book goes back and forth between the two women in 1912 and 1964. Author Beatriz Williams draws some great characters, from people in Germany before the First World War, especially Berlin and the men and emerging women of 1964.
It’s a pleasure to read, filled with lots of intrigue, love and really, really bad men. Well, one bad man, enough said! Vivian unfolds the story bit by bit with her lovely Dr. Paul thrown in for good measure as she reasons it’s not every day you find a doctor at the post office that you get to keep. ‘The Secret Life of Violet Grant’ is an enjoyable read, go and buy it and put it on your favorite book shelf, it is well worth it.
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