Audiobook Review: The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz WilliamsThe Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams
Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Length: 14 hrs, 42 mins
Series: Schuyler Sisters #1
Published by Penguin Audio on May 27, 2014
Genres: Historical, Romance, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

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.

Until I nabbed the audiobook of The Secret Life of Violet Grant, I was unfamiliar with Beatriz Williams. Still, I’m game for historical fiction and I liked the narrator based on the sample. Good call self, I spent almost fifteen hours vastly entertained, dahlings, by the scandals of the upper crust. The Secret Life of Violet Grant is delicious caramel candy. Melodrama abounds, my friends. If you like your historical novels full of sex and betrayal, come and get it.

The Secret Life of Violet Grant alternates between two timelines: that of the titular Violet and of her niece, Vivian Schuyler. Both timelines were thoroughly fascinating to me as they progressed linearly through their lives. The novel opens with Vivian, daughter of the wealthy Schuyler clan, currently courting parental disapproval by insisting on working at a magazine of all things and living in a ratty apartment. She’s notified that a package is being held for her at the post office, so she goes to get it. When the package turns out to be large for her to carry, she gets an offer of help from the hot doctor Paul in line in front of her.

The package contained a suitcase, belonging not to her but to her aunt Violet, whose existence she had never known of before that moment. When she learns that her mysterious Aunt was kicked out of the family because of her desire to study physics under Dr. Walter Grant, whom she later married and then murdered, Vivian’s curiosity is piqued. She determines to discover the truth of Violet’s story and write an article about her for the magazine.

The drama is high here, guys. Think Mad Men levels of sexual intrigue. The difference, though, is that The Secret Life of Violet  Grant is female-centric. Vivian is a sexual being and completely comfortable with that. She’s hot and knows it. If she wants sex, she has it. Her attitude is so sex-positive, and I really loved that aspect. Actually, her whole family is like that. Well, not Violet really. Not at first.

Violet’s story is cringe-inducing on the social side, but the landscape of the intellectual community in 1914 Berlin is amazing, as is the WWI plot. However, I just need to state for the record how incredibly disgusting Walter Grant is. *shudders* What a loathsome human being. I mean, he seduces Violet, his thirty-years-younger protege. Throughout their affair, he always calls her child. Just yuck yuck yuck. In fact, the biggest drawback of this book is that, though this is the creepiest romance, I didn’t like any of them and the ending was not sweet.

The narration by Kathleen McInerney fits The Secret Life of Violet Grant perfectly. Since both perspectives are in third person, the single narrator worked just fine. McInerney does a great upper crust, snooty accent, which gave me great delight. She gave voice to each character, including the men, and they all were quite satisfactory.

Williams’ The Secret Life of Violet Grant wasn’t thought-provoking or deep and dark like most of my historical fiction, but it was the perfect bit of candy. It’s what I wanted and kept me entertained. I’m adding the audiobooks of Williams’ other novels to my to-read list, because this was such fun.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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One response to “Audiobook Review: The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams”

  1. Bonnie says:

    O-ho! I thought this one was the follow-up novel to A Hundred Summers and was avoiding this one. Wow, this sounds like tons of fun. Like a historical fiction soap opera! I’ve been wanting to check out the authors (first?) book ‘Overseas’ because I’m a total sucker for anything time travel.
    Bonnie recently posted…Book Review – Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne BlankmanMy Profile

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