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The Secret Life of Violet Grant Hardcover – May 27, 2014
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Williams, author of the best-selling A Hundred Summers (2013), conjures up another substantive beach read steeped in history and familial intrigue. Separated by 50 years but joined together in spirit and ambition, Vivian Schuyler and Violet Schuyler Grant share equal parts of the narrative flow as the story leapfrogs back and forth between 1964 New York and 1914 Berlin. When Vivian accepts delivery of a musty parcel from the past, she is compelled to unlock the secrets that have shrouded the memory of her Great Aunt Violet. Though the blue-blooded Schuyler family has done its best to bury and ignore Violet’s disgraceful past—she was, after all, determined to pursue a career as a scientist!—the deeper Vivian digs, the more invested she becomes in Violet’s story. Rumor has it that Violet murdered her husband and mentor, Dr. Walter Grant, before mysteriously disappearing with her lover on the eve of WWI. As Vivian closes in on the past, she has a heart-wrenching problem of her own to resolve in the present. Readers will love wallowing in the twists and turns of this irresistibly luxurious tale. --Margaret Flanagan
Praise for THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT
“A riveting tale of murder and adultery.” —US Weekly
“Another absorbing page-turner filled with romance and secrets…. Violet’s narrative will captivate readers with its intrigue and the protagonist’s struggles…” —Library Journal
“Williams conjures up another substantive beach read steeped in history and familial intrigue.... Readers will love wallowing in the twists and turns of this irresistibly luxurious tale.” —Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Vivian is a young, single woman in New York City in 1964. She is a journalist with a low-level job at a magazine and is captivated by a very old suitcase delivered to her. It’s locked and she believes it was a mistaken delivery. There’s a name on it: Violet …..”. Vivian’s mother reluctantly tells her about the aunt who left her comfortable existence to work as a scientist in Europe pre-World War I. Vivian believes there is a story here and she wants to write it.
From there, Vivian is captivated by the suitcase and Violet’s amazing story: going to Europe as a student, working as a scientist (when women didn’t pursue such careers), marrying her professor. He is shot and Violet disappears with her lover. Whew!
Vivian’s life is not without complications either and of course, a man.
The chapters go from Violet’s voice to Vivian’s. Every paragraph, every chapter is spellbinding. I would recommend this book as a five-star read!
I read novels; I review novels: And It takes a lot of my time. Why do I do it? Because, once in a great while, I run across a book like this, and it makes all my time and effort worth while.
The two stories--one playing against the other, chapter after chapter--an aunt and a niece; one story before the First World War, the other story much later on in New York City--with their unexpected twists and turns: So sweet, so complicated, so honest and gullible and right.
The main character, a journalist in pursuit of a story that involves her youngest aunt--and a murder--and a disappearance; a story which could make her career, pitted against a family that wants to keep the aunt's story mum; her perseverance, her chutzpah, and a man--there is always a man.....The main character has so much pizzazz, so many one-liners up her sleeve, so witty, such a beautiful face, hair, body; so much going for her, yet so alone and lonely.
From the first page to the last page: It is a complete, wonderful, perfectly wrapped, elaborate package, tied with a beautiful, flamboyant bow,and presented to the reader. Best book I've read in quite a while.
The main character is so incredibly likeable and sassy, I knew I was going to enjoy this book from the first few pages onward. It didn't disappoint.
As I get older and grumpier, I have less tolerance for bad writing. This is well-written but not stuffy.
This would be a fantastic summer beach or pool read. Or a vacation read. Or a stuck in the house on a drizzly day read.
Went from this to two other Beatriz Williams books that follow the other two sisters. Also enjoyable!