The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Setting:  Manhattan, 1964 and Berlin, 1914


  • Vivian Schuyler – Sparkling and spunky socialite working for Metropolitan magazine
  • Violet Schuyler Grant – A bright and brilliant scientist enduring married life for the sake of the opportunities it brings her
  • Dr. Walter Grant – Violet’s much older husband; a scientist in his own right, as well
  • Lionel Richardson – British Army captain and former student of Walter Grant

Plot: The Secret Life of Violent Grant is told in two perspectives and in two times – Vivian is living in New York City and working for a magazine. One Saturday afternoon, she receives a notice that there’s a package for her at the post office. She goes to pick up the parcel and winds up also picking up a handsome doctor to carry the bulky package back to her apartment. Inside the package is a suitcase belonging to Vivian’s great-aunt Violet – one who Vivian has never heard of and who, it seems, vanished from history after killing her husband and running away with her lover. Vivian’s story is one of discovery: finding out what happened to her great-aunt and setting the record straight.

Violet is a scientist in pre-World War I England. She meets the eminent Dr. Walter Grant and begins to work with him. Soon enough, the pair are entangled in a sexual affair that leads to marriage and a new placement in Berlin. Violet has learned to accept her unhappy marriage and her cheating husband . . . until Captain Lionel Richardson convinces her that she deserves more. In the days immediately before the outbreak of World War I, Lionel and Violet race toward the promised safety of Zurich.

Pacing: Steady. Giving the reader just enough to reel you in and keep you wanting more.

Predictability: Medium. Sure, some things I saw coming, but I didn’t care at all. The characters are so well written and developed, that I was completely wrapped up in the telling.

Wild Card: As each woman’s story unfolds, I became more and more captivated. The parallels between great-aunt and niece are striking. Vivian is audacious and lives life with a spark that inevitably draws people to her; she’s someone I couldn’t help but like and admire. And Violet is a woman I couldn’t help but love, too. My heart broke for her and I found her courage inspiring. Both women are unforgettable – as is this story.

Hit, Miss, or Draw:  Hit

18667976About the Book
Passion, redemption, and a battered suitcase full of secrets: the New York Times-bestselling author of A Hundred Summers returns with another engrossing tale.

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 détente. 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.

About the Author
unnamed-680x1024.jpgA graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a corporate and communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons.

She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Her books include Overseas (2012), A Hundred Summers (2013), The Secret Life of Violet Grant (2014), Tiny Little Thing (2015), Along the Infinite Sea (2015), The Forgotten Room (2016), and  A Certain Age (June 2016).

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