Disclaimer: I devoured this book in a single day. I couldn’t put it down. Well, it didn’t hurt that I was trapped on a plane for seven hours, but I could have been knitting.
Here’s the thing about New York, the thing I love most: there is no such substance as silence. If you ever stop talking, and he stops talking, the city takes over for you. A siren forms a distant parabola of sound. A door slams. The old couple in 4A argues over who will answer the telephone. A million other lives play out on your doorstep, and not one of them gives a damn about your little problems. Life goes on and on and on.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been a bit of a Beatriz Williams fangirl since I read Along the Infinite Sea. As any devoted fan would, I dutifully placed as many holds as possible on her books at our library. I read A Hundred Summers (only to realize I must have already read it in the 5 years since it was published), A Certain Age, and Cocoa Beach. All of which didn’t capture my attention quite like Infinite Sea, but then came Violet Grant.
The Secret Life of Violet Grant is set up similarly to Infinite Sea. The chapters alternate between two characters set in two different eras, Vivian (Manhattan, 1964) and Violet (Berlin, 1914). Linked by a mysterious suitcase, Vivian is forging a path in the magazine industry and disappointing her high society parents; meanwhile, Violet sets off to become a female physicist in prewar Germany and falling for her professor.
I love this format because it keeps me in engaged and removes the option of reading on autopilot.
As a writer myself, I am in awe of Williams’ descriptions and pace in her work. I felt like I was in a day-long movie reading this book, anxiously waiting to see what happened and patiently savoring every sentence because I didn’t want it to end.
See, I’m fangirling. I told you so.
If you’re looking for a quick read that’s interesting and entertaining, please pick this book up. You won’t regret it.
Book Club Questions
- How do you think the suitcase found its way to Vivian in New York?
- What would you look up first if you had access to the confidential archives at Vivian’s office?
- How did you feel about who shot Dr. Grant?