The Secret Life of Violet Grant

Williams, Beatriz

Book - 2014
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Secret Life of Violet Grant
"Passion, redemption, and a battered old suitcase full of secrets: the New York Times-bestselling author of A Hundred Summers returns with another engrossing tale of lost love and female ambition that crosses generations. 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 detente. 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"--

Publisher: New York :, G. P. Putnam's Sons,, 2014.
ISBN: 0399162178
Characteristics: 436 pages ;,24 cm


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Mar 07, 2015
  • Chapel_Hill_MarthaW rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Beatriz Williams is a bit of a mixed bag for me, as authors go -- A Hundred Summers is a really, really fun old-timey beach read, but I found her first novel, Overseas, annoying (if highly readable, and still fun) for a variety of reasons. And I wasn't sure how I felt about this book until I was about halfway through. It's split between 1964 and 1914 (a tactic Williams has employed in all of her novels, and which I have to say she is quite good at), following Violet Grant in 1914 Berlin and her great-niece, Vivian Schuyler, in 1960s New York. I wouldn't be surprised to learn a lot of people dislike this book because of Vivan's character, who is very brash and bold and wisecracking, and she's annoying at times. However, I thought Violet's 1914 story was extremely compelling -- and has a GREAT, really wonderful ending -- and even if the 1960s storyline couldn't quite hold the same interest for me (and Williams, as ever, suffers from making too many of her characters fall instantly in love), it was still highly entertaining, and Vivian grew on me. I read the last 150 pages of the book in one sitting. I don't think it's for everyone -- but I really enjoyed it.

Dec 10, 2014
  • BrownBird46 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

An enjoyable and easy read. A tale of two V's, Violet and Vivian - and a suitcase. The action shifts between 1914 and 1964. Sprinkled with wit and a few twists. Looking forward to reading some of this author's other books.

Sep 21, 2014
  • ehbooklover rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I read about this book in a magazine and thought it sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, once I started the book I found myself wondering whether I should continue to invest time in it. In the end I did finish the book but I honestly can't say that I would read another title by this author. I just didn't connect to any of the characters and I found that the majority of the book to be way too predictable and somewhat tedious.

Jun 15, 2014

"Defying the privilege of her 1960s Fifth Avenue family to pursue a job with a style magazine, recent college graduate Vivian Schuyler discovers a secret about an aunt she never knew who at the dawn of World War I fled her oppressive marriage to pursue an audacious goal." Fiction A to Z June 2014 newsletter

Jun 08, 2014
  • booklady413 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book goes back and forth between 1964 and 1914. In 1964, Vivian receives a battered valise with the belongings of an Aunt Violet that she never knew. What will Vivian uncover about the life of this aunt who was a scientist when woman were not readily accepted in that profession. There is a mystery Vivian must solve about this aunt and the murder of her famous scientist husband. It was an excellent read.


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