The Operator
A clever, surprising, and ultimately moving debut novel, set in a small Midwestern town in the early 1950s, about a nosy switchboard operator who overhears gossip involving her own family, and the unraveling that discovery sets into motion.In a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business . . .Nobody knows the people of Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operator Vivian Dalton, and she’d be the first to tell you that. She calls it intuition. Her teenage daughter, Charlotte, calls it eavesdropping.Vivian and the other women who work at Bell on East Liberty Street connect lines and lives. They aren’t supposed to listen in on conversations, but they do, and they all have opinions on what they hear... especially Vivian. She knows that Mrs. Butler’s ungrateful daughter, Maxine, still hasn’t thanked her mother for the quilt she made, and that Ginny Frazier turned down yet another invitation to go to the A&W with Clyde Walsh.Then, one cold December night, Vivian listens in on a call between that snob Betty Miller and someone whose voice she can’t quite place and hears something shocking. Betty Miller’s mystery friend has news that, if true, will shatter Vivian’s tidy life in Wooster, humiliating her and making her the laughingstock of the town.Vivian may be mortified, but she isn’t going to take this lying down. She’s going to get to the bottom of that rumor—get into it, get under it, poke around in the corners. Find every last bit. Vivian wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be.But as Vivian is about to be reminded, in a small town like Wooster, one secret usually leads to another. . . .

The Operator Details

TitleThe Operator
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherWilliam Morrow
ISBN-139780062917201
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

The Operator Review

  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    In the 1950s, small town telephone switchboard operator Vivian Dalton habitually listens in on calls. One day she hears a piece of gossip about her family that disrupts her life. Unfortunately, what she hears isnt revealed in the book until about the 40% point. Once it was finally revealed, the secrets about the townsfolk just kept coming. The backstories of some of the characters in this book turn out to be slightly deeper and more serious than they first appear from the simplistic manner in In the 1950s, small town telephone switchboard operator Vivian Dalton habitually listens in on calls. One day she hears a piece of gossip about her family that disrupts her life. Unfortunately, what she hears isn’t revealed in the book until about the 40% point. Once it was finally revealed, the secrets about the townsfolk just kept coming. The backstories of some of the characters in this book turn out to be slightly deeper and more serious than they first appear from the simplistic manner in which the book is written. The problem is that the story is told from Vivian’s point of view and the author chose to make her unintelligent and naive just because she didn’t have a high school diploma. Uneducated isn’t the same as dumb. My other problem with the book was that the characters were so gossipy, snobbish, bigoted and horrid to each other that I really didn’t care what problems they might have in their lives. I was interested enough in the book to keep reading, but I thought it was just ok. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Operators listening in on conversations?Its the 1950s, and that could be done with a simple "number please." The operators could also disconnect a call too.What if you heard something in a conversation about you? Would you keep listening to conversations? Would you try to do something about what you heard?Vivian was devastated when she listened to a conversation and found out she was the topic of some gossip and gossip she wanted to keep under wraps even though she knew it would spread like Operators listening in on conversations?It’s the 1950’s, and that could be done with a simple "number please." The operators could also disconnect a call too.What if you heard something in a conversation about you? Would you keep listening to conversations? Would you try to do something about what you heard?Vivian was devastated when she listened to a conversation and found out she was the topic of some gossip and gossip she wanted to keep under wraps even though she knew it would spread like wildfire.After hearing the gossip, Vivian tried to avoid everyone when she went out in case they would ask her any questions.What could it be that she was so worried about? The reader was kept in suspense for many chapters.There were other problems that the town thought were worth gossiping about too - and there was plenty of gossip to pass around. Secrets and gossip kept the small town of Wooster buzzing.THE OPERATOR is a light, comical, enjoyable read that should be enjoyed by readers of all genres. 5/5This book was given to me by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    Set in 1950s Wooster, Ohio, The Operator is a story about evesdropping and gossiptwo of my favorite pasttimes! Vivian Dalton, a switchboard operator uses her job to "innocently" spy on callers and her peers in the neighborhood. Usually, the gossip is all just fodder, until one night where Vivian hears a call from her frenemy Betty Miller and finds out something that will change her life forever. The Operator is a cute, lighter read (in my opinion) and a nice debut by Gretchen Berg. Although Set in 1950s Wooster, Ohio, The Operator is a story about evesdropping and gossip—two of my favorite pasttimes! Vivian Dalton, a switchboard operator uses her job to "innocently" spy on callers and her peers in the neighborhood. Usually, the gossip is all just fodder, until one night where Vivian hears a call from her frenemy Betty Miller and finds out something that will change her life forever. The Operator is a cute, lighter read (in my opinion) and a nice debut by Gretchen Berg. Although I am middle of the road about this book (I didn't love it nor did I hate it), I think readers will be polarized on how they enjoy the pacing of this novel. If you want something light and easy, but a non-bingeworthy book, I think The Operator will be a good choice.
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  • Kristy
    January 1, 1970
    Vivian Dalton is a switchboard operator in the small town of Wooster, Ohio. She knows the people of her town quite well--thanks in no small part to the eavesdropping she and the other women do while working at Bell. Usually it's pretty harmless, but that all changes one December night when Vivian listens in on a call between Betty Miller--a rich woman whom she despises--and someone else, whom she doesn't recognize. Their conversation reveals a shocking secret that affects Vivian personally and, Vivian Dalton is a switchboard operator in the small town of Wooster, Ohio. She knows the people of her town quite well--thanks in no small part to the eavesdropping she and the other women do while working at Bell. Usually it's pretty harmless, but that all changes one December night when Vivian listens in on a call between Betty Miller--a rich woman whom she despises--and someone else, whom she doesn't recognize. Their conversation reveals a shocking secret that affects Vivian personally and, if true, will change her life forever. Vivian is horrified, and she starts to investigate. In doing so, she begins to unearth even more secrets and lies. "That was the thing about small towns. Everyone knew everyone else's business." I don't often pick up historical fiction, but I won this book, and it sounded interesting. It certainly was. This is a fascinating look at small town relationships and the power of secrets and family. Vivian is quite a character; married to her husband, Edward, for fifteen years, with a daughter Charlotte, who is a sophomore in high school. Her life is small and mainly confined to Wooster. Vivian resents her siblings who finished high school, something she couldn't do as she had to help her family when money grew tight. The book starts off a little slow, as I'm never a huge fan when we're told there's a huge secret (what Vivian overhears) but it isn't revealed. Once we finally find out what it was, things pick up. Vivian takes on more power, showing a tough and determined side, especially for what was expected of women in 1950s. The book does a good job of illustrating the limitations, but also strengths, of women in the time period. Berg also includes excerpts from Vivian's childhood and growing in the 1930s. I enjoyed seeing how different things were and watching Vivian overcome so much. Her daughter, Charlotte, was a great character, too. There are also a lot of side stories, too, involving a host of small town Wooster characters and even a bank robbery. Overall, while this took a while to warm up, it was an intriguing look at lies and secrets and how they affected the Dalton family. It's easy to get invested in Vivian and Charlotte (her husband, Edward, seemed like a pretty one-dimensional character, though). It does a strong job of portraying women and all they endure. The book is witty and heartfelt as well. 3.75 stars, rounded to four here. I won a copy of this book from William Morrow. Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ PaperBackSwap ~ Smashbomb
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  • Melissa Rochelle
    January 1, 1970
    Lesson learned: Eavesdropping and gossiping will only get you into trouble and karma is a b!tch.
  • Denise
    January 1, 1970
    What a clever, witty, snarky little piece of fiction! I have always been fascinated with the 1950's, and this book pulls all of the best and worst of that era. Phone operators had the most exciting job, as the way one made a phone call then was to dial the operator and say "number please." Who wouldn't listen on calls?! That's a temptation I wouldn't be able to pass up either ...In The Operator, there isn't anyone who knows the citizens of small town Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard What a clever, witty, snarky little piece of fiction! I have always been fascinated with the 1950's, and this book pulls all of the best and worst of that era. Phone operators had the most exciting job, as the way one made a phone call then was to dial the operator and say "number please." Who wouldn't listen on calls?! That's a temptation I wouldn't be able to pass up either ...In The Operator, there isn't anyone who knows the citizens of small town Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operator Vivian Dalton, and she’s not ashamed to tell you that, although when her teenage daughter calls it eavesdropping, she always says that she just "knows people." Vivian and her co-workers at Bell know that they are not supposed to listen in on conversations, but they do, and they all have opinions on what they hear. I loved the references Vivian makes in the first chapter - she knows that Mrs. Butler’s daughter, Maxine, still hasn’t thanked her mother for the quilt she made (so ungrateful), and that Ginny Frazier turned down yet another invitation to go to the A&W with Clyde Walsh (really her best hope for a man). The snarky sarcasm exudes off of every page, and I found myself laughing throughout every chapter! Everything changes though, when right before Christmas, Vivian listens in on a call between pretentious, snobby, banker's daughter and frenemy, Betty Miller, and someone whose voice she doesn't recognize, and she hears something shocking - about her own family. Betty Miller is now in possession of news that will shatter Vivian’s life, humiliate her and make her the laughingstock of the town (although by today's standards the "news" is rather benign, but in the 50's, I can imagine it would have been devastating). Vivian is mortified, and her entire life is thrown for a loop. She determines that she is going to get to the bottom of the rumor, or as she so aptly puts it, "get into it, get under it, poke around in the corners." She sets out on a quest for the truth, which ultimately leads her in surprising directions. There is also a subplot involving a bank heist, which ultimately ties in to the main storyline in a clever way. Although none of the characters are particularly likable, there is something rather endearing about Vivian, and you can't help but cheer her on. I thought the book started out a bit slow, but the snarkiness right from the get-go, helped to keep my interest until I got into the "meat" of the book. The ending is redeeming and even in the 1950's, karma is a bitch! The Operator is a fun, light-hearted read that is resplendent with witty quotes, dictionary definitions, and recipes (although she omits the chocolate from all the recipes when she's trying to punish her husband, so if you use any of the recipes, don't forget to add it back in!). All in all, it is not a book for everyone, but I found it to be a nice respite from dark thrillers and for a debut work, it is a treasure! 4 quirky stars.
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  • Davida Chazan
    January 1, 1970
    It isn't often that a debut novel will get 5/5 stars from me, but when it does, I know I've found a new favorite author. My #bookreview of this book is on my blog here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2020/03/1...
  • Creager
    January 1, 1970
    Excuse me while I yell my exuberance at you, I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED MY TIME SPENT READING THIS NOVEL SET IN THE 1950s! Whew! Vivian Dalton, a mother with middle-child syndrome, has a fondness for listening into conversations. Thankfully, she finds the perfect/worst job as a telephone operator. Until the wrong/right conversation spurs on shenanigans. A drunken Santa, a bank robbery, and Orson Welles broadcast of The War of the Worlds; its all here in this character-driven novel, that you might/must Excuse me while I yell my exuberance at you, “I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED MY TIME SPENT READING THIS NOVEL SET IN THE 1950s!” Whew! Vivian Dalton, a mother with middle-child syndrome, has a fondness for listening into conversations. Thankfully, she finds the perfect/worst job as a telephone operator. Until the wrong/right conversation spurs on shenanigans. A drunken Santa, a bank robbery, and Orson Welles’ broadcast of The War of the Worlds; its all here in this character-driven novel, that you might/must relish too!
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    I could not love this story more. First the setting of Wooster Ohio, is just thirty minutes from where I grew up and my grandmother was a telephone operator, so you had me at HELLO! Anyone who has lived in a small town will know that everyone seems to be everyone's business. Vivian Dalton has been told to mind her own business a time of two since she was a young girl, but she still loves to eavesdrop, even if she often regrets it. The story is so cleverly told with each chapter revealing another I could not love this story more. First the setting of Wooster Ohio, is just thirty minutes from where I grew up and my grandmother was a telephone operator, so you had me at HELLO! Anyone who has lived in a small town will know that everyone seems to be everyone's business. Vivian Dalton has been told to mind her own business a time of two since she was a young girl, but she still loves to eavesdrop, even if she often regrets it. The story is so cleverly told with each chapter revealing another layer of small town intrigue filled with rumor and deceit.. The spunky Vivian will get to the bottom of it and will follow any clue or trail until she does..
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Net Galley for an ARC of this novel. Vivian Dalton is a switchboard operator who eavesdrops on conversations on a daily basis. One of these eavesdropping sessions upends Vivian's life with a revelation involving her family. At times funny, I could not really get invested in the characters, finding many of them unlikable. I could not muster much sympathy for Vivian. There was also story withing a story about bank embezzelment that I found very confusing, and did not tie into the main Thank you Net Galley for an ARC of this novel. Vivian Dalton is a switchboard operator who eavesdrops on conversations on a daily basis. One of these eavesdropping sessions upends Vivian's life with a revelation involving her family. At times funny, I could not really get invested in the characters, finding many of them unlikable. I could not muster much sympathy for Vivian. There was also story withing a story about bank embezzelment that I found very confusing, and did not tie into the main story until the very end.
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  • Travel.with.a.book
    January 1, 1970
    The Operator is a vivid, wealthy historical fiction that provides us with many emotions all at once! The story is set in the 1950s, and Vivian is the main character who is a mother with a bad habit that will take a huge turn within the book, you can feel every page in this book because it has details that will make you laugh and will make you go through a journey of emotions! .The operator is elaborated in a fascinating past road, the background is fully designed so witty and archaic and it The Operator is a vivid, wealthy historical fiction that provides us with many emotions all at once! The story is set in the 1950s, and Vivian is the main character who is a mother with a bad habit that will take a huge turn within the book, you can feel every page in this book because it has details that will make you laugh and will make you go through a journey of emotions! .The operator is elaborated in a fascinating past road, the background is fully designed so witty and archaic and it makes you easily fall in love with the magnificent writings of the Author! Vivian is such a fun person, in every chapter we get to explore the layers of the novel and we discover many suspense moments that will make your mind blow!.The plot is so creative and compelling, and Berg has crafted the details so good as we can enjoy it in maximum! Merged with gossips and scandals we see Vivian in different moments that we get to see her building as a strong character, the relationship between her family is so unique and Berg has written it so carefully, the moments that noone seems to expect are spectacular and from the fact that Gretchen is a debut Authkr this makes it even more speechless book that we highly recommend you to read! .The ending is filled with many complexity details that are shockingly powerful and I loved it so much! If you love robbery, gossips, historical fiction then this book is a perfect one for you, also we rate this 5/5 and we can not wait to read more from the Author because The Operator is one of my most favourite read of the Year so far!
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  • BookGypsy
    January 1, 1970
    This was so much more than I expected. About switchboard operator Vivian Dalton who listens in on the phone calls. When she over hears talk about her own family, secrets she wants to keep hidden it sets this story in motion. A very creative plot. I had a party line growing up and I admit I have picked up the receiver and listened in. This was a nice flash back into the past. I really enjoyed it.Dawnny-BookGypsy Novels N Latte Hudson Valley NY
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  • Linden
    January 1, 1970
    This novel is set in the early 1950's Ohio, where Vivian is an operator for Bell Telephone. She often listens in on the calls that come through the switchboard, until she overhears a shocking tidbit of information about a family secret that will change everything. Recommended for readers who enjoy books by Elizabeth Strout, Anne Tyler, and Elizabeth Berg. Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    So you know when you are so excited for a book, you start smiling the second you sit down, and then you crack open to start reading. Its such a great feeling when you know you are about to be taken on an amazing journey. The worst feeling is when that doesnt end up happening and you have a hard time getting though the book you were super excited to read. Unfortunately that happened to me when I went to read The Operator by Gretchen Berg. This book was kindly sent to me after I requested it So you know when you are so excited for a book, you start smiling the second you sit down, and then you crack open to start reading. It’s such a great feeling when you know you are about to be taken on an amazing journey. The worst feeling is when that doesn’t end up happening and you have a hard time getting though the book you were super excited to read. ⁣⁣Unfortunately that happened to me when I went to read The Operator by Gretchen Berg. This book was kindly sent to me after I requested it exchange for an honest review. It had an amazing premise, which followed our main character Vivian. She’s a telephone operator who likes to listen in on the calls she connects. One day she’s eavesdropping like normal and she hears something that will flip her world upside down.⁣⁣❤️Review❤️⁣⁣This book had some great drama. I loved the idea behind the secrets and gossip that was being spread around, but it just felt poorly executed. It bounced around timelines for the first 100ish pages and then that stopped being an element. It was really confusing as it jumped timelines because when it went back to the 30s it never jumped back to the same time. It was also confusing because throughout the book it would switch character perspectives without notice or warning. The writing just didn’t help when it came to getting attached to these characters. It’s mostly a character driven story so if I couldn’t get attached to them it made getting through the book difficult. I can see why others have liked this book, but unfortunately I just couldn’t click with it. ⁣I would like to thank @williammorrowbooks for allowing me the opportunity to read this book.⁣2 stars ⭐️ ⭐️⁣⁣What was the last book you couldn’t click with?⁣⁣#booksforreview #williammorrow #newbooks #2020bookreleases #beautifulcovers #historicalfiction #bookswithdrama #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #project50books
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  • Ashley *Booksbrewsandbarks*
    January 1, 1970
    I had very high hopes for this book, as I have always loved the idea of switchboard operators and the world in which they were integral to communication. While the way everything in this book ended up tying together quite well, it lacked in too many places for me. At the end of the day, there was just not enough of Vivian actually being a switchboard operator and the overall storyline didn't make up for that. This book carries a number of mysteries throughout its pages, which will leave the I had very high hopes for this book, as I have always loved the idea of switchboard operators and the world in which they were integral to communication. While the way everything in this book ended up tying together quite well, it lacked in too many places for me. At the end of the day, there was just not enough of Vivian actually being a switchboard operator and the overall storyline didn't make up for that. This book carries a number of mysteries throughout its pages, which will leave the reader intrigued and wondering why they are even being brought up because the connections are not extremely evident at first. I could see how many readers would be annoyed at this as, halfway through the book, I really had no idea where the book was headed and questioned about whether I was invested in the characters and multiple storylines to even care where it was headed. I trudged through and, even though the end was pleasant and somewhat fulfilling, it seemed to take too long to get there, diverting in too many directions and trying to hard. I feel like if the book had been culled down to all the dramas being heard at the switchboard, it would have been more entertaining but, as we saw little to none of the switchboard after the first quarter of the book, it took away from the intrigue and lacked the draw for me as a reader. Overall, it was an okay read. I wouldn't by any means say I wasted my time because I thought the writing was pretty solid, it was just misleading in its representation and went off in too many directions. Knowing this, I also wouldn't fault other readers for not being invested enough to finish. Many thanks to the publisher for my gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honesty.
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  • Laurel-Rain
    January 1, 1970
    In a small town, everyone knows everyone elses business . . . Nobody knows the people of Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operator Vivian Dalton, and shed be the first to tell you that. She calls it intuition. Her teenage daughter, Charlotte, calls it eavesdropping.Vivian and the other women who work at Bell on East Liberty Street connect lines and lives. They arent supposed to listen in on conversations, but they do, and they all have opinions on what they hearespecially Vivian. She knows In a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business . . . Nobody knows the people of Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operator Vivian Dalton, and she’d be the first to tell you that. She calls it intuition. Her teenage daughter, Charlotte, calls it eavesdropping.Vivian and the other women who work at Bell on East Liberty Street connect lines and lives. They aren’t supposed to listen in on conversations, but they do, and they all have opinions on what they hear—especially Vivian. She knows that Mrs. Butler’s ungrateful daughter, Maxine, still hasn’t thanked her mother for the quilt she made, and that Ginny Frazier turned down yet another invitation to go to the A&W with Clyde Walsh. Then, one cold December night, Vivian listens in on a call between that snob Betty Miller and someone whose voice she can’t quite place and hears something shocking. Betty Miller’s mystery friend has news that, if true, will shatter Vivian’s tidy life in Wooster, humiliating her and making her the laughingstock of the town.Vivian may be mortified, but she isn’t going to take this lying down. She’s going to get to the bottom of that rumor—get into it, get under it, poke around in the corners. Find every last bit. Vivian wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be.But as Vivian is about to be reminded, in a small town like Wooster, one secret usually leads to another. . . My Thoughts: As I read The Operator, I felt myself swept back in time to the 1950s small town in which I lived growing up. Back then, not only did operators connect our calls, but we also had party lines and could hear some of our neighbors’ conversations.I have always been fascinated by the idea of switchboard operators and how much control these young women had over the conversations and the happenings around them.Alternating narrators take us through the stories in this fascinating book, serving to distract me completely from my own current troubles, remembering those long-ago times and the incidents that affected small town lives.I felt compassion for Vivian, whose family life growing up set the stage for an adulthood full of envy of those with more. Those who had privileges she had not known.In the end, Vivian does find that the secrets that could have ruined her life turned out to launch a whole new beginning for her. An engaging story that earned 4.5 stars.
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  • Kristina
    January 1, 1970
    The Operator by Gretchen Berg is a lighthearted historical novel about gossip, eavesdropping and scandal. Vivian Dalton works as a telephone operator at Ohio Bell. She began eavesdropping on conversations at an earlier age and working at the telephone company allowed her to continue this hobby. Late one December evening, Vivian overhears a conversation between the hoity toity Betty Miller and a stranger. The stranger tells Betty a secret about Vivians family which, if it gets out, will embarrass The Operator by Gretchen Berg is a lighthearted historical novel about gossip, eavesdropping and scandal. Vivian Dalton works as a telephone operator at Ohio Bell. She began eavesdropping on conversations at an earlier age and working at the telephone company allowed her to continue this hobby. Late one December evening, Vivian overhears a conversation between the hoity toity Betty Miller and a stranger. The stranger tells Betty a secret about Vivian’s family which, if it gets out, will embarrass Vivian. After getting over her anger, Vivian sets out to learn if the information is accurate. While the story plays out in the present, we get to learn about Vivian’s growing up years and her relationship with her family. We also learn about Betty Miller’s family and the robbery of the bank managed by Betty’s father, J. Ellis Reed. This side story does not make sense until the end of the book. I had a hard time getting into The Operator. The first chapter did not pull me in (it was a turn off). I found The Operator easier to read as I got further into the story. I also think I had trouble because it is hard to like the main character (or any of them for that matter). I felt the author captured the time period with the fashions, vehicles, the language, and events. I like how Gretchen Berg included Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds’ Martian invasion broadcast. She captured the panic it created beautifully. I did feel The Operator was too long. It could have benefited from some judicious editing. This is Gretchen Berg’s debut novel which is loosely based on her grandmother (author’s note at end explains about newspaper articles and poems included). There are some recipes included in The Operator. The Operator is a blithe story about rampant rumormongering, endless eavesdropping, superior standards, and harmful hearsay.
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  • Kris - My Novelesque Life
    January 1, 1970
    RATING: 5 STARS2020; William Morrow/HarperCollinsWow, The Operator really blew me away. I have to admit I requested this book just based on the gorgeous cover. I love old telephones, and wallpaper...it's the history buff in me. This novel is set in a small town in America, in the 1950s, so I was sold! The music in the beginning of my audiobook, had me thinking this was a suspenseful novel...and it kind of was. The Operator is a lot like the novel, Olive Kitteridge in so many ways. Both are about RATING: 5 STARS2020; William Morrow/HarperCollinsWow, The Operator really blew me away. I have to admit I requested this book just based on the gorgeous cover. I love old telephones, and wallpaper...it's the history buff in me. This novel is set in a small town in America, in the 1950s, so I was sold! The music in the beginning of my audiobook, had me thinking this was a suspenseful novel...and it kind of was. The Operator is a lot like the novel, Olive Kitteridge in so many ways. Both are about the people in a small town revolving around a character that isn't entirely likeable, but is somehow still endearing as we see them in their most vulnerable moments. The Operator is different in that the secrets that are revealed are set in a different time and with another type of impact. This is a novel I would recommend to any reader that loves novels with realistic flawed characters. It is only April, but I have a feeling that this will make my top list at the end of the year, and for sure this month! I am looking forward to debut novelist, Gretchen Berg's next book.***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
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  • Kristin (Always With a Book)
    January 1, 1970
    It's no surprise that I love coming across debut novels and this one was such a delightfully fun look back a time when we didn't all have our own individual phones glued to our hands. I grew up in a house with nine people and remember not even having call waiting, so it was fun reliving this time when switchboard operators were still in existence.I have lived in small towns all my life and so of course I was intrigued by this book and found it delivered on that end all the way. Add in the idea It's no surprise that I love coming across debut novels and this one was such a delightfully fun look back a time when we didn't all have our own individual phones glued to our hands. I grew up in a house with nine people and remember not even having call waiting, so it was fun reliving this time when switchboard operators were still in existence.I have lived in small towns all my life and so of course I was intrigued by this book and found it delivered on that end all the way. Add in the idea of eavesdropping and gossip, especially from nosy switchboard operators and I was even more intrigued. This book just pulled me in more and more and I loved the way little bits were dangled over us to keep us reading...I found this to not only build the suspense, but also it kept me frantically flipping those pages to find out just what had happened.I loved the characters in this book, even the ones that weren't so nice. In a small town, everyone thinks they should know everyone else's business - that's one of the things my husband most despises about small-town living - but it's all fun and games until you are the subject of such gossip. And it was fun finding out that even the high and mighty aren't so immune to the gossip after all.This story was fun to read and quite cleverly crafted. It went back and forth in time to lay out all the pieces and ensure we had the foundation in place so that as the layers started to be peeled back, we understood just what we were learning. It was just the perfect balance of mystery with equal parts humor and gossip and I found I couldn't read it fast enough. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will certainly be keeping an eye out for what Gretchen Berg writes next!Thank you to William Morrow Books & TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free review copy!My reviews can also be found on my blog: http://alwayswithabook.blogspot.com/
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  • Onceinabluemoon
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 enjoyed stepping back I time, war of the worlds, I love lucy, and those darn 7 layer bars I bet I make this afternoon!
  • Lady Delacour
    January 1, 1970
    Liked theBook Jacket.Enjoyed theQuirky Story.Did not carefor God andChrist usedas bad words.2 Ok Stars.TTS Listen.Cleanish.Foul Language
  • Nicole momming_and_reading
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ pg 180. I wasnt into the plot and I felt the characters were just flat, annoying stereotypes of 1950s housewives. Thanks to Bibliolifestyle & William Morris for the ARC so I could give my honest thoughts. DNF @ pg 180. I wasn’t into the plot and I felt the characters were just flat, annoying stereotypes of 1950s housewives. Thanks to Bibliolifestyle & William Morris for the ARC so I could give my honest thoughts.
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  • Tiffany Foskey
    January 1, 1970
    Gretchen Berg's debut novel is amazing!!!!!!!!! Wow the secrets that you find out from one little phone call!!!!!!! I read this book in 1 day and devoured it!!!!!!!!!!! Vivian is a wife, mother, & switch board operator in the early 50's who has a bad habit of listening in to people's phone calls. Seems a little harmless at first because nothing exciting ever happens in her small town until the day she hears something that could tear her family & reputation apart!!! That little gossip Gretchen Berg's debut novel is amazing!!!!!!!!! Wow the secrets that you find out from one little phone call!!!!!!! I read this book in 1 day and devoured it!!!!!!!!!!! Vivian is a wife, mother, & switch board operator in the early 50's who has a bad habit of listening in to people's phone calls. Seems a little harmless at first because nothing exciting ever happens in her small town until the day she hears something that could tear her family & reputation apart!!! That little gossip opens up a whole can of Secrets that no one saw coming.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    The Operator by Gretchen Berg is a hilarious, snarky, quick-paced literary treat. This is a historical fiction novel set in the early 1950s in small-town Wooster, Ohio and involves, amongst many supporting characters within the small town, Vivian and Betty. Both women are not particularly likable characters, and it is totally ironic that while both are rivals and dislike each other, they are more alike then they will ever realize. Both Vivian and Betty are insecure, gossipers that look down on The Operator by Gretchen Berg is a hilarious, snarky, quick-paced literary treat. This is a historical fiction novel set in the early 1950s in small-town Wooster, Ohio and involves, amongst many supporting characters within the small town, Vivian and Betty. Both women are not particularly likable characters, and it is totally ironic that while both are rivals and dislike each other, they are more alike then they will ever realize. Both Vivian and Betty are insecure, gossipers that look down on others for things they are at fault themselves. The competition that ensues between the two ladies raises a notch after Vivian, while inappropriately eavesdropping mind you, overhears a monumental secret, and the subsequent digging into finding out more, creates a cascading effect thereafter. The “golden rules” of doing unto others, and what happens when karma takes the reins, comes to mind for the reader and applies perfectly in this case.I enjoyed the quick, witty, sarcastic, and hilarious dialogue that I felt was appropriately paced with an equally unique plot and ending makes this book an enjoyable and memorable read. I also liked that the main female characters were unlikeable, and therefore to me, more interesting and relatable. I also liked the secondary plot that followed along as well. It added another layer of interest and complexity to the novel. I have always loved the 50s vibe, and add that to the fact that I can relate due to also living in a small town, made me love this book even more. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and enthusiastically recommend! 5/5 starsThank you NetGalley and HarperCollins/William Morrow for this great ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am submitting my review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.
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  • B.
    January 1, 1970
    I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Reading this book reminded me of sitting down with my Gram and listening to her stories. Imagine my delight when I finished the book to find out that the author loosely based everything on stories her own grandmother told her! This book will appeal to people, well, people like me. People who are in their mid-thirties. People who were close with their grandparents and got to hear their stories. People whose grandmothers spent time in the kitchen I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Reading this book reminded me of sitting down with my Gram and listening to her stories. Imagine my delight when I finished the book to find out that the author loosely based everything on stories her own grandmother told her! This book will appeal to people, well, people like me. People who are in their mid-thirties. People who were close with their grandparents and got to hear their stories. People whose grandmothers spent time in the kitchen while their grandfathers spent time puttering about in their workshops. People who know how scandalous it was to have company without having your face on, people who knew women who had never in their lives worn a pair of pants, because it just wasn't done. This is for the people who remember, and who hold those memories dear. If you're going into this expecting a thriller or a modern day scandal, well, you're going to be disappointed. This is the 1950s, and it's true to detail, and that's what makes this book so wonderful. I read quickly, and I could have honestly read this one in a few hours, but I piecemealed it out, savoring returning to a simpler world, a world that was, perhaps, no easier than today, but arguably less complex. It's a book about a slower time, and it's one that is meant to be savored. I loved every minute of it, and I was sorry to see it end. Younger audiences may see this book as quaint, and younger audiences who have no idea about common social nuance and proper behavior (for that time) may find it droll, but that's their loss.
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  • Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    January 1, 1970
    I had been looking forward to reading The Operator, expecting something light, and quirky, perhaps with a bit of an edge, in a wholesome 1950s small town setting. Thats not really what this is though. The Operator is satire, exploring the darker side of small town life that lurks beneath the veneer of respectability.I struggled with The Operator, in large part because I didnt much care much for the characters. The residents of Wooster, Ohio, or at least those with whom we spend the most time, I had been looking forward to reading The Operator, expecting something light, and quirky, perhaps with a bit of an edge, in a wholesome 1950’s small town setting. That’s not really what this is though. The Operator is satire, exploring the darker side of small town life that lurks beneath the veneer of respectability.I struggled with The Operator, in large part because I didn’t much care much for the characters. The residents of Wooster, Ohio, or at least those with whom we spend the most time, Vivian and Betty, are mainly unpleasant, perpetually unsatisfied, small-minded women whose flaws are their own undoing. Vivian’s lifelong habit of eavesdropping, which she indulges freely as a telephone operator, proves the old adage, “eavesdroppers never hear any good of themselves”, true. While Betty, a spiteful, snob is ripe to learn, “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. Though I found the pacing a little slow and disjointed through the first half, the story has its moments as Vivian digs into the secrets being kept from her, exposing scandals far more serious than who has answered the door without makeup on, including premarital pregnancy, adultery, robbery, bigamy, and desertion.Of additional interest, the author’s note reveals the story is loosely based on her own grandmother’s life and as such some elements of the story are rooted in fact, including the misspelled recipes, poems, and a news article.I didn’t particularly enjoy The Operator, though I didn’t particularly dislike it either, it just wasn’t for me. It may be just what your looking for though.
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  • Linda Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book and the flood of nostalgic memories that washed over me as I read it. It brought back flashbacks of my sisters and I hearing our Mom tell us about her days working the telephone switchboard in our small community. I'm positive that there was some listening in done! It also reminded me of days gone by when we had 'party lines ' and everyone knew everyone else's business but would never admit it. I believe that a novel is a success when it can readily evoke memories and I really enjoyed this book and the flood of nostalgic memories that washed over me as I read it. It brought back flashbacks of my sisters and I hearing our Mom tell us about her days working the telephone switchboard in our small community. I'm positive that there was some listening in done! It also reminded me of days gone by when we had 'party lines ' and everyone knew everyone else's business but would never admit it. I believe that a novel is a success when it can readily evoke memories and this one aptly does that.The author has created characters that leap off from the page; realistic Midwest small town dialogue and 1950's stresses abound.I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from netgalley, William Morris and The Book Club Girls. All opinions are my own. @gretchenberg #bookstagram #theoperator @williammorrispublishing @harpercollins
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  • Tina
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to like this book. It was set in an area not even an hour from where I grew up and about 30 minutes from where I currently live so the setting was familiar. Unfortunately, I just didn't love the story in general. Some things I did like...the growth Vivian showed from the beginning of the story to the end and the fact that Betty and her family (father) got what they deserved in the end. Thank you to the Book Club Girl Early Read program for the advanced copy; all opinions are my I really wanted to like this book. It was set in an area not even an hour from where I grew up and about 30 minutes from where I currently live so the setting was familiar. Unfortunately, I just didn't love the story in general. Some things I did like...the growth Vivian showed from the beginning of the story to the end and the fact that Betty and her family (father) got what they deserved in the end. Thank you to the Book Club Girl Early Read program for the advanced copy; all opinions are my own.
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  • Jodie (thathappyreader)
    January 1, 1970
    As The Operator demonstrates, living in a small town brings with it the good and the bad. As telephone operators in Wooster, sometimes listening in to calls to learn the latest gossip is exciting - that is, unless the call is gossip about you and your family.Vivian is the protagonist in this story and is a well-developed and interesting character - right down to her love of Revlon Fire and Ice lipstick and nail colour. Her story is set primarily in the 1950s but the author provides insight into As “The Operator” demonstrates, living in a small town brings with it the good and the bad. As telephone operators in Wooster, sometimes listening in to calls to learn the latest gossip is exciting - that is, unless the call is gossip about you and your family.Vivian is the protagonist in this story and is a well-developed and interesting character - right down to her love of “Revlon Fire and Ice” lipstick and nail colour. Her story is set primarily in the 1950’s but the author provides insight into her earlier life as a teenager and young bride. There are many humorous moments which demonstrated Vivian’s free-spirit - I laughed out loud when she cleared her switchboard of cables in one sweep of her arm.The book kept me entertained throughout and I couldn’t wait to see how several of the town’s mysteries would unfold. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it for those readers who enjoy a lighter, humorous read.Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow for the ARC of this book in exchange for the honest review provided here.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    I won the Advanced Reader's Copy. (I noticed that the edition I read is shorter than the actual novel listed.)I loved this book! The writing style, the characters, the plot. This is the best novel I've read about a small town's residents and the secrets they keep.
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