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The Secret Life of Violet Grant (Schuyler Sisters #1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  11,868 Ratings  ·  1,427 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 2014)
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The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. RoseWritten in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana GabaldonA Burnable Book by Bruce HolsingerA King's Ransom by Sharon Kay PenmanThe King's Curse by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction 2014
108th out of 373 books — 2,337 voters
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Adult Books Of 2014
20th out of 98 books — 121 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 27, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
I don’t normally read New York Times Bestsellers in the pulp fiction category. I’m normally a “literary fiction” type who occasionally dabbles in poetry and short stories. That is to say, I’m normally a book snob. During my year reading a 100 books I read some bestsellers and non-fiction, but even then I remained committed to my choice-genre. So when I discovered Beatriz Williams was a NYT bestseller of the pulp fiction variety, I began reading The Secret Life of Violet Grant with an arrogant ...more
Mar 27, 2014 Patty rated it it was amazing
The Secret Life Of Violet Grant
Beatriz Williams

What it's all about...'s about a mysterious battered suitcase and what happens because of it.

My thoughts after reading this book...

Oh my goodness I had much love for this book. It had two awesome superstar heroines, lots of mystery, lots of banter, lots of cocktails, espionage, broken hearts and international travel! Plus did I say amazing lunches of tomato soup and grilled cheese and yummy breakfasts of Yuban coffee, bacon, scrambled egg
Jan 27, 2016 Christina rated it really liked it
4 Stars!

The year is 1964. Vivian Schuyler, fresh from Bryn Mawr college, has defied her family's wishes for her future by finding work at Metropolitan magazine. She hopes to be a writer, but her editor dismisses her, making her good for nothing more than grabbing his coffe and checking the occasional fact. When an unexpected parcel arrives for her, it starts a journey into the life of an aunt that she never knew and a scandalous story to go with it...hopefully If she can uncover the full story,
Katz Nancy from NJ
I toyed with the idea of giving this book a one star rating but thought I'd be kind. I really disliked this book and don't think I'll read this title again. The premise was a good one. A young woman who yearns to be a journalist receives a valise from a name she doesn't recognize. From here the book takes on two different stories which are from the present and back to 1914.
I found the modern day dialogue ridiculous as well as one of the main character's interest in a man she meets at the post of
Jul 03, 2014 Cameran added it
Shelves: did-not-finish
DNF -- July 2014

Unfortunately this is the second Beatriz Williams book that has not gone over well with me. I wanted to like this story, and I was very intrigued by the synopsis and the beautiful cover. But my impressions of the characters evolved to such a point that I decided to abandon this book almost exactly at the halfway mark.

Vivian, no matter how much I love her name, got on my nerves. I felt as if the attempt to make her this damaged woman who uses wit to protect herself was completely
May 25, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing
Nothing says summer reading like a big, thick pager turning novel that is enjoyable but not to provocative or complex. The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams fits those criteria and then some. Opening in 1964 when young Vivian Schuyler, recent Bryn Mawr graduate, has defied the wished of her privileged Fifth Avenue parents and taken a job and an apartment. Vivian is the very definition of a modern woman, not content to marry her way to her future she intends to live her life to the ...more
Judi/Judith Riddle
May 05, 2016 Judi/Judith Riddle rated it really liked it
This novel has been referred to as a beach read. A beach read is not great literature and perhaps you wouldn’t want to put it on your bookshelf between, lets say, War and Peace and Oliver Twist. I know for sure when I pick up a book in this genre it’s going to be light, fluffy, and a lot of fun but not to be taken seriously and that is exactly the genre The Secret life of Violet Grant falls in. It served me very well being a lighter break, in between deeply serious novels and the absolutely ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Love. Intrigue. Deceit. Mystery. Honor -- Beatriz Williams has done it again with this tale of two strong convention-bucking women from the Schuyler family. The story is told from the point of view of two narrators -- Violet, who heads to Europe in the 1910s to pursue her passion for science while her peers head off to "finishing schools"; and Vivian, her great-niece, who doesn't want to settle for the "Mrs. degree" and stands ready to give up a chance a love for a chance at the journalism ...more
I so wanted to like this book, the description sounded like something I would really like but this one fell short for me. I won this book from librarything early reviewers but had a hard time getting into it so got the audio hoping it would be better but for over half of the book all I wanted was for it to be over.

I love dual storylines in historical fiction and that was what I was expecting but this book is Romance, lots of sex (very descriptive) and once you get through that there is a little
Jun 11, 2014 Karin rated it it was ok
I read an excerpt of this in a magazine and was hooked on the plot so I ordered the book from the library. Once I started reading, I was sadly disappointed. While the plot is interesting and the characters are great, the book is overcome with worldliness. There is so much bad language, drinking, smoking and descriptions of sex that I could not continue reading.
Apr 19, 2015 Jamise rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
Historical fiction, romance, war, murder, adultery unexpected twists and turns... the perfect ingredients for a fantastic read!! I truly enjoy how this author makes the characters relevant and relatable, you either love or hate them. I equally enjoy how characters from previous books make subtle but meaningful appearances. Beatriz Williams never disappoints!
Sharon Huether
Aug 08, 2014 Sharon Huether rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel, chick-lit
What a story! The brown leather suitcase is the center of attention. It belonged to Vivians Aunt Violet, before WWI 1914 while she was in Germany. The story weaves it mystery back and forth from 1914 to 1964. There are twists and turns, then the great escape. Loved the book. I've read another book by Beatriz Williams, it was very good so I knew this one would be too.
Dec 21, 2014 Laurel rated it really liked it
I will not keep you in suspense, according to the usual practice of elegant females. I adored this novel. Even thought the combination of story lines, both historical (1910's) and contemporary (1960's) was brilliant, I has truly taken with the contemporary plot line much more. Heroine Vivian Schuyler receives a vintage suitcase from the past from her great aunt Violet Grant, the rich New York Schuyler family black sheep - sending her on a mission of discovery into her aunt's scandalous life as a ...more
Apr 15, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
As soon as I started reading The Secret Life of Violet Grant I knew I was going to love it. I immediately fell in love with Vivian Schuyler, she is a spunky independent women trying to make her own way in New York City in 1964 despite coming from a family of great wealth. One Saturday morning she is delivered a long lost suit case that once belonged to a great Aunt of hers, an Aunt she never knew about.

Violet Schuyler is also a women of great independence, living in Europe in 1914 as a young sci
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Vivian is the niece of a brilliant scientist named Violet who has quite an interesting past. She has never even heard of her Aunt Violet until a package shows up for her at a Manhattan post office. The package is Violet's old and once missing suitcase. When she asked her well-to-do family about Violet, they seemed to horrified by her scandal. She has been missing for about fifty years and has a dark past, which intrigues Vivian to no end as she is an aspriing journalist working for a New York ...more
Lisa Mcbroom
Jun 19, 2014 Lisa Mcbroom rated it did not like it
What a disappointment! The premises sounded wonderful... set in the 1960's a young woman discovers her aunt Violet's secret suitcase of documents during World War II but the writing is horrible and the heroine just makes you want to put a spike in your head!!!!
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

A suitcase full of secrets? A suitcase that opens up the proverbial can of worms which leads Vivian Schuyler to find out about her aunt who supposedly murdered her husband.

Once Vivian found out some juicy details about her aunt, she couldn't stop researching her life. This could be her big break at the magazine with this story.

THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT goes back and forth between Vivian's life and Aunt Violet's life. Are there parallels between their lives? Vivian wants to know about her a
Erika Robuck
Jul 12, 2014 Erika Robuck rated it it was amazing
One hears so much about “voice” in fiction, and rarely is the power of voice more clear as it is in the work of Beatriz Williams. Yes, the plot is engrossing, the story fascinating, and the setting luminous, but the real draw of Williams’ novel is that feisty, zingy, pop-an-olive-into-your-mouth-from-your-martini-while-giving-the-gossip voice of the narrator, Vivian Schuyler. The reader will know after approximately 1.6 pages with Vivian that they will devour the next 400+ pages just to lean a ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Finally my reading mojo is back! Two great ones in a row. I love, love, loved this quippy, fast-paced historical novel covering two time periods - the 1960s and just prior WWI. It starts with a suitcase that shows up at the 1960s apartment of fun, sassy, hilarious protagonist Vivian. Vivian Schuyler is definitely one of my favorite protagonists ever. Anyway, the suitcase was left somewhere in 1914 and the German government was finally returning it. I actually saw the author speak at my local ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Jun 08, 2014 Tara Chevrestt rated it really liked it
I am thoroughly impressed with this novel. Never having read this author before, I didn't really know what to expect. I began completely engrossed in this story and absolutely enamored with the 60s' heroine. She's so very witty, sarcastic, funny, honest. What's not to love about her? I can't remember the last time I was so taken by a narrator.

The story goes back and forth between her, Vivian, and the past--pre WWI--to a scientist spurned by her own well-to-do American family. The 60' story mostl
Aug 10, 2014 Holly rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This was an enjoyable summer read. I debated between 3 and 4 stars but decided on four stars because it definitely held my interest. I preferred Vivian over Violet though. Loved Vivian's tenacity, her sarcastic behavior, and wit. Violet was little boring and, maybe, a little too naïve. She let her sex-addict husband rule her world that's for sure. And speaking of sex....there was a lot of it. Nothing too graphic but it was there. Except there were some crude mentions of sex in one part of the ...more
May 28, 2014 Victoria rated it it was amazing
Ecopy via Penguin’s First to Read


Just in time for the long weekend, grab your beach tote and a copy of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and have yourself a lovely summer day at the beach with a perfect book in hand! Beatriz Williams once again delivers a fascinating love story. It’s passionate and romantic, woven with history and family intrigue, best served with a side of mystery that will have you racing through the pages. And for the fans of Williams’s previous summer gem, A Hundred Sum
Four and a half stars

I was so glad to have this on hand while I was sick in bed this week. I've been on a roll, and not a good one, where I haven't been able to find anything I can sink my teeth in to, to read. So, I went to the library with a list and came home with a new pile to work through. Thankfully this was borrowed from the "New" shelf and had to returned before the others so I started with it.

At first I wasn't sure about the style of narration, the part of the story that unfolds in the
Feb 25, 2015 Paula rated it liked it
I would really like to give this book 3 1/2 stars, but that's not possible. It was an enjoyable story, and I really liked Vivan's story, and her "voice": for Vivian, the author often demonstrated a faint, Wodehousian use of words and phrases. The story kept me interested, although not usually surprised by the turn of events. Two quibbles - although the story takes place alternately in 1914 and 1964, the cover shows a woman at the rail of a ship wearing a '30's style dress and hat - I was ...more
Jan 08, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best audiobooks that I can remember. The narrator definitely has a feel for the characters and the story. I had never read anything by this author before. I selected it because I love intersecting storylines. I wasn't a bit disappointed. Vivian, a modern '60 woman in NY, has a career in the city and is looking for a little adventure. I won't go into details. Other reviewers have done that already. When a suitcase arrives at her apartment, she is intrigued and this leads her to ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
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.

Read the full review at A Reade
♥︎♥︎ Demaris♥︎♥︎
Well. A thoroughly enjoyable read. A very solid 3.5 stars

This book, with it's two stories running parallel, was edge-of-your-seat-engrossing. Vivian and Violet both bucking the times they lived in, both fearless but with enough vulnerability to make them relatable, both trying not to let their hearts rule their heads and both carrying a burden of hurt not easily shaken-off. One of the best books I've read so far this year.....

Now, should I be glutton and move on to the next in the Schuyler Siste
Aug 16, 2015 Carajcohen rated it liked it
I was very excited to read another book by Beatriz Williams after having read and having loved 100 Summers. Although I ended up loving this book and not being able to put it down at the end, it lagged for a bit in the middle for me. I also had a really hard time appreciating the voice of Vivian. She was far too cartoon like for me, but I grew to appreciate her more towards the end of the book. Overall, I did end up enjoying this book, but it took more of a commitment than I anticipated after
Tricia Sanders
Aug 31, 2016 Tricia Sanders rated it really liked it
really really enjoyed this one, in fact i've just checked out the next one in the series Tiny Little Thing. I haven't read many books from this time period and really enjoyed it and the characters. I read this as part of a book club recommendation from thank you Heather!
Sep 12, 2016 Anita rated it it was amazing
Beatriz Williams has done it again!! This book is filled with even more love and intrigue and hot passion. Perfect for a summer read. Just buy it!!
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Goodreads Librari...: Target club edition 1 13 Oct 15, 2016 11:54AM  
Around the Year i...: The Secret Life of Violet Grant, by Beatriz Williams 2 21 Jun 24, 2016 05:04AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Target Club pick edition 1 12 Dec 29, 2015 08:41PM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 4 Mar 09, 2015 12:48PM  
  • The Beautiful American
  • That Summer
  • The Forgotten Room
  • The Daring Ladies of Lowell
  • My Name Is Resolute
  • The Visitors
  • The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
  • Astor Place Vintage
  • The Race for Paris
  • Lost Among the Living
  • The Major's Daughter
  • Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion
  • A Spear of Summer Grass
  • The Last Camellia
  • Somewhere in France
  • Dollbaby
  • Ember Island
  • The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Other Books in the Series

Schuyler Sisters (3 books)
  • Tiny Little Thing
  • Along the Infinite Sea

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“I thought, how magical, the first glimspe of snow. By March I would be sick of it, but here in this November instant those tiny flakes swirled with the unspeakable purity of a divine gift.” 9 likes
“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. The young lovers in 2C reach an animalistic climax. 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.” 3 likes
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