Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review: The Secret Life of Violet Grant

Beatriz Williams can do no wrong. I am officially convinced of that. I just finished reading The Secret Life of Violet Grant (why it took me so long, I have no idea), and it was wonderful. I was previously introduced to Williams' writing when I read A Hundred Summers last summer while on our honeymoon and I thought it was beautiful, so when The Secret Life of Violet Grant came up as a suggested read on Amazon last week, I wasted no time in purchasing it.

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Vivian Schuyler was born wealthy, but is trying to make it on her own as a journalist, and is living in New York City in 1964 when a mysterious suitcase comes into her possession. The suitcase, at one point, belonged to Vivian's great-aunt Violet, a woman even more daring and independent than Vivian, who left her family behind to study physics in England in 1911 before disappearing. This suitcase potentially holds the key to her disappearance. Alternating between narrators, Violet's story is revealed; although, for decades, her family has managed to keep it under wraps, which adds a bit of mystery.

Secrets that have been long tucked away are revealed as Vivian tries to locate her great-aunt. While Vivian has hopes of writing a story about Violet and finally achieving her dream of becoming a full-fledged journalist, she is also curious about her mysterious disappearance and the accusation that Violet is an adulterer who murdered her famous physicist husband.

As we read Violet's narration, we see that Violet's marriage was not a happy one: her husband is extremely controlling and manipulative, and he does not value his wife in any way beyond being an attractive, younger woman on his arm. We also learn that Violet's scientific work, as well as the people she spent time with while working, somehow played a part in her disappearance. 

Williams is able to recreate the era in which Violet lived and while I was reading, I was able to imagine Europe in the early 1900s. The twists in the story kept me guessing and I found myself caught up in both Violet and Vivian's stories. Williams' work is quickly making her one of my must-read authors and I give The Secret Life of Violet Grant a 9 out of 10.

Addendum: With spring break next week, I just ordered Overseas, which was published in 2012, to have something exciting to read while lounging around the house in my pjs (I live an exciting life) and I cannot wait until Williams' next book, Tiny Little Thing, is released on June 23rd! 

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