Thursday, July 9, 2015

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

Pages: 448
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: May 27, 2014
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: A Hundred Summers
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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 d├ętente. 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."
Vivian is the niece of a brilliant scientist named Violet who has quite an interesting past. She has never even heard of her Aunt Violet until a package shows up for her at a Manhattan post office.  The package is Violet's old and once missing suitcase.  When she asked her well-to-do family about Violet, they seemed to horrified by her scandal. She has been missing for about fifty years and has a dark past, which intrigues Vivian to no end as she is an aspriing journalist working for a New York City magazine hoping to get her big break.  Also, a handsome doctor helps Vivian carry her package up the many flights of stairs in her New York apartment and they hit it off immediately. Luck seems to be on Vivian's side, because she has also convinced her boss that she should write the story of Violet after some research and the more she finds out about her aunt, the more she is completely enthralled with her adventerous life.  Beatriz Williams writes captivating historical reads that shouldn't be missed. The Secret Life of Violet Grant is going on my "favorites" list.

Vivian is the type of protagonist that I immediately connected with. Her sense of humor, her outlandish behavior, and her spunk all really captivated me in The Secret Life of Violet Grant.  Once she meets Doctor Paul, they both form an immediate connection, but things get complicated surrounding their relationship.  I won't say anything else for fear of spoilers, but I adored their relationship, even though Doctor Paul didn't make the best descicions from time to time.

The narrative jumps from Vivian in 1964 to her aunt Violet in 1914.  Violet was also an unconvential young woman in that she wanted more than to just marry well in her life. She was a brilliant scientist and ended up marrying her Oxford educated (and much older!) professor, Dr. Grant.  They moved to Berlin and ran in progressive circles, which of course, her family did not approve of.  Violet slowly grew on me in The Secret Life of Violet Grant. Once she started to gain some independence and spunk, I liked her a bit more. Her relationship with Dr. Grant was downright abusive and I wanted her to get far away from him. Thankfully, she comes to her senses, although not without a lot of drama and obstacles to overcome.

I thought Williams expertly jumped from Vivian's narrative to Violet's in The Secret Life of Violet Grant. I liked that Violet wants to uncover the truth surrounding a family mystery. Studying family history is a passion of mine, so I was completely enthralled in this aspect of the story. Also, I liked how Williams connected the two plots together and threw in some good plot twists as well.

In The Secret Life of Violet Grant, I also love how Williams incorporates characters from her other novels. Lily from A Hundred Summers makes an appeareance and it was nice to see what she has been up to.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, you simply can't miss Beatriz Williams' novels. A Hundred Summers is one of my favorites and now The Secret Life of Violet Grant is as well. Beatriz Williams is now an auto-buy author for me. 


12 comments:

  1. I've been seen this book on my book store jaunts, and the cover always calls out to me. I like the era, the romance you alluded to and the mystery surrounding her aunt. Thanks for this!

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    1. Me too...love the era! I hope you get to read this book soon, Joy. Thanks for visiting.

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  2. I can't believe I haven't read this one yet; I've got to do it!!! Thanks so much, Christina; I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I hope you get to read it soon...it's fantastic. Thanks for visiting, Tara, and I hope you had a great birthday.

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  3. I'm glad you liked it! I still haven't read A Hundred Summers yet but I did read this one. I felt so bad for Violet. Her husband was vile and disgusting. I was glad when she finally started to think for herself. Nice review!

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    1. OH! You need to read A Hundred Summers as well...such a good book and perfect for summertime. I felt badly for Violet as well. Her husband was a horrible man! Thanks for visiting, Christina!

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  4. I've heard Beatriz's name a couple of times but I haven't read her books. You definitely know great historical fiction novels and I will take your advice and check out her books. I feel like Williams will be a name that will be added to my shelf very soon. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Thanks, Andrea! I hope you pick up this book or A Hundred Summers soon...both are on my favorites list. Thanks for visiting!

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  5. I love this book! I was able to go a book signing last week for her newest book, Tiny Little Thing, which is about one of Vivian's older sisters. I haven't read it yet, but Beatriz Williams is such a great author!

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    1. That's awesome! I would love to go to one of her signings. I just bought Tiny Little Thing last week, so I can't wait to start it! Thanks for visiting, Sarah!

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  6. I recently finished A Hundred Summers and absolutely loved it! I have this one and Tiny Little Thing on my shelf and can't wait to get to them!

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    1. I love A Hundred Summers too - so, so good. I just purchased Tiny Little Thing...can't wait to read it as well. I hope you enjoy both! Thanks for visiting!

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