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The Operator

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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  526 ratings  ·  241 reviews
A clever, surprising, and ultimately moving debut novel, set in a small Midwestern town in the early 1950s, about a nosy switchboard operator who overhears gossip involving her own family, and the unraveling that discovery sets into motion.

In a small town, everyone knows everyone elses business . . .

Nobody knows the people of Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operator
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by William Morrow
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Average rating 3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  526 ratings  ·  241 reviews


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Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Operators listening in on conversations?

Its the 1950s, and that could be done with a simple "number please." The operators could also disconnect a call too.

What if you heard something in a conversation about you? Would you keep listening to conversations? Would you try to do something about what you heard?

Vivian was devastated when she listened to a conversation and found out she was the topic of some gossip and gossip she wanted to keep under wraps even though she knew it would spread like
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Dennis
Set in 1950s Wooster, Ohio, The Operator is a story about evesdropping and gossiptwo of my favorite pasttimes! Vivian Dalton, a switchboard operator uses her job to "innocently" spy on callers and her peers in the neighborhood. Usually, the gossip is all just fodder, until one night where Vivian hears a call from her frenemy Betty Miller and finds out something that will change her life forever.

The Operator is a cute, lighter read (in my opinion) and a nice debut by Gretchen Berg. Although
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Kristy
Vivian Dalton is a switchboard operator in the small town of Wooster, Ohio. She knows the people of her town quite well--thanks in no small part to the eavesdropping she and the other women do while working at Bell. Usually it's pretty harmless, but that all changes one December night when Vivian listens in on a call between Betty Miller--a rich woman whom she despises--and someone else, whom she doesn't recognize. Their conversation reveals a shocking secret that affects Vivian personally and, ...more
Melissa Rochelle
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, read-2019
Lesson learned: Eavesdropping and gossiping will only get you into trouble and karma is a b!tch.
Davida Chazan
It isn't often that a debut novel will get 5/5 stars from me, but when it does, I know I've found a new favorite author. My #bookreview of this book is on my blog here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2020/03/1...
Creager
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excuse me while I yell my exuberance at you, I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED MY TIME SPENT READING THIS NOVEL SET IN THE 1950s! Whew! Vivian Dalton, a mother with middle-child syndrome, has a fondness for listening into conversations. Thankfully, she finds the perfect/worst job as a telephone operator. Until the wrong/right conversation spurs on shenanigans. A drunken Santa, a bank robbery, and Orson Welles broadcast of The War of the Worlds; its all here in this character-driven novel, that you might/must ...more
Barbara
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I could not love this story more. First the setting of Wooster Ohio, is just thirty minutes from where I grew up and my grandmother was a telephone operator, so you had me at HELLO! Anyone who has lived in a small town will know that everyone seems to be everyone's business. Vivian Dalton has been told to mind her own business a time of two since she was a young girl, but she still loves to eavesdrop, even if she often regrets it. The story is so cleverly told with each chapter revealing another ...more
Linden
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is set in the early 1950's Ohio, where Vivian is an operator for Bell Telephone. She often listens in on the calls that come through the switchboard, until she overhears a shocking tidbit of information about a family secret that will change everything. Recommended for readers who enjoy books by Elizabeth Strout, Anne Tyler, and Elizabeth Berg. Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC.
Mary
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Net Galley for an ARC of this novel. Vivian Dalton is a switchboard operator who eavesdrops on conversations on a daily basis. One of these eavesdropping sessions upends Vivian's life with a revelation involving her family. At times funny, I could not really get invested in the characters, finding many of them unlikable. I could not muster much sympathy for Vivian. There was also story withing a story about bank embezzelment that I found very confusing, and did not tie into the main ...more
Nicole
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-read, 2020
So you know when you are so excited for a book, you start smiling the second you sit down, and then you crack open to start reading. Its such a great feeling when you know you are about to be taken on an amazing journey. The worst feeling is when that doesnt end up happening and you have a hard time getting though the book you were super excited to read.

Unfortunately that happened to me when I went to read The Operator by Gretchen Berg. This book was kindly sent to me after I requested it
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BookGypsy
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so much more than I expected. About switchboard operator Vivian Dalton who listens in on the phone calls. When she over hears talk about her own family, secrets she wants to keep hidden it sets this story in motion. A very creative plot. I had a party line growing up and I admit I have picked up the receiver and listened in. This was a nice flash back into the past. I really enjoyed it.

Dawnny-BookGypsy
Novels N Latte
Hudson Valley NY
Kristina
The Operator by Gretchen Berg is a lighthearted historical novel about gossip, eavesdropping and scandal. Vivian Dalton works as a telephone operator at Ohio Bell. She began eavesdropping on conversations at an earlier age and working at the telephone company allowed her to continue this hobby. Late one December evening, Vivian overhears a conversation between the hoity toity Betty Miller and a stranger. The stranger tells Betty a secret about Vivians family which, if it gets out, will embarrass ...more
Onceinabluemoon
3.5 enjoyed stepping back I time, war of the worlds, I love lucy, and those darn 7 layer bars I bet I make this afternoon!
Tiffany Foskey
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gretchen Berg's debut novel is amazing!!!!!!!!! Wow the secrets that you find out from one little phone call!!!!!!! I read this book in 1 day and devoured it!!!!!!!!!!!
Vivian is a wife, mother, & switch board operator in the early 50's who has a bad habit of listening in to people's phone calls. Seems a little harmless at first because nothing exciting ever happens in her small town until the day she hears something that could tear her family & reputation apart!!! That little gossip
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Rachel
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Operator by Gretchen Berg is a hilarious, snarky, quick-paced literary treat. This is a historical fiction novel set in the early 1950s in small-town Wooster, Ohio and involves, amongst many supporting characters within the small town, Vivian and Betty. Both women are not particularly likable characters, and it is totally ironic that while both are rivals and dislike each other, they are more alike then they will ever realize. Both Vivian and Betty are insecure, gossipers that look down on ...more
B.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Reading this book reminded me of sitting down with my Gram and listening to her stories. Imagine my delight when I finished the book to find out that the author loosely based everything on stories her own grandmother told her! This book will appeal to people, well, people like me. People who are in their mid-thirties. People who were close with their grandparents and got to hear their stories. People whose grandmothers spent time in the kitchen ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
I had been looking forward to reading The Operator, expecting something light, and quirky, perhaps with a bit of an edge, in a wholesome 1950s small town setting.

Thats not really what this is though. The Operator is satire, exploring the darker side of small town life that lurks beneath the veneer of respectability.

I struggled with The Operator, in large part because I didnt much care much for the characters. The residents of Wooster, Ohio, or at least those with whom we spend the most time,
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Linda Smith
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and the flood of nostalgic memories that washed over me as I read it. It brought back flashbacks of my sisters and I hearing our Mom tell us about her days working the telephone switchboard in our small community. I'm positive that there was some listening in done! It also reminded me of days gone by when we had 'party lines ' and everyone knew everyone else's business but would never admit it. I believe that a novel is a success when it can readily evoke memories and ...more
Nicole momming_and_reading
Mar 05, 2020 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: own-tbr, 2020-arcs
DNF @ pg 180. I wasnt into the plot and I felt the characters were just flat, annoying stereotypes of 1950s housewives.

Thanks to Bibliolifestyle & William Morris for the ARC so I could give my honest thoughts.
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Tina
Mar 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. It was set in an area not even an hour from where I grew up and about 30 minutes from where I currently live so the setting was familiar.

Unfortunately, I just didn't love the story in general. Some things I did like...the growth Vivian showed from the beginning of the story to the end and the fact that Betty and her family (father) got what they deserved in the end.

Thank you to the Book Club Girl Early Read program for the advanced copy; all opinions are my
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Lady Delacour
Liked the
Book Jacket.
Enjoyed the
Quirky Story.
Did not care
for God and
Christ used
as bad words.
2 Ok Stars.
TTS Listen.
Cleanish.
Foul Language
Jodie
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As The Operator demonstrates, living in a small town brings with it the good and the bad. As telephone operators in Wooster, sometimes listening in to calls to learn the latest gossip is exciting - that is, unless the call is gossip about you and your family.
Vivian is the protagonist in this story and is a well-developed and interesting character - right down to her love of Revlon Fire and Ice lipstick and nail colour. Her story is set primarily in the 1950s but the author provides insight into
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Stephanie
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I won the Advanced Reader's Copy. (I noticed that the edition I read is shorter than the actual novel listed.)
I loved this book! The writing style, the characters, the plot. This is the best novel I've read about a small town's residents and the secrets they keep.
Heidi
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A huge thank you to the Book Club Girl Early Reads program for a digital advanced reading copy of this book.

I really wanted to love this book about a busybody switchboard operator who listens in on the calls of people in her small town, but it was very difficult to get interested in for some reason. My grandma used to tell stories about one of her neighbors who would eavesdrop on the partyline and even have the nerve to interrupt calls to ask a question about what she heard so that is why I
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Maureen
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was intrigued by the book's description right from the start, as it is set in Wooster, Ohio, which isn't too far from my home. I always find it fun to read about familiar places, recognize name of street, shops, etc. Also, I was curious about the main character's job-telephone operator-and how she might deal with information she "accidentally" overheard while connecting calls.
The story moves along at a nice pace. There are twists, turns, and surprises throughout which kept me turning pages.
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Susanne Cutler
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy of this novel from Goodreads. I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was clever and well written. It was a cross between "Mayberry" and "Harper Valley PTA" if any one can relate to that reference.
Heather
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Operator was fantastic!! The Operator was written by Gretchen Berg, who is becoming one of my new favorite authors! The story takes place in Wooster, Ohio in the 1950's when operators were the life-line of the telephone. I loved the rumors, stories, and women of this time period. Life was so much simpler and so glamorous! (Can you image answering the door without your lipstick?!- some lines made me laugh out loud!) Berg follows the lives of three sisters and how a scandal begins in a small ...more
Rachel
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Operator by Gretchen Berg is a hilarious, snarky, quick-paced literary treat. This is a historical fiction novel set in the early 1950s in small-town Wooster, Ohio and involves, amongst many supporting characters within the small town, Vivian and Betty. Both women are not particularly likable characters, and it is totally ironic that while both are rivals and dislike each other, they are more alike then they will ever realize. Both Vivian and Betty are insecure, gossipers that look down on ...more
Dustin Hood
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Operator by Gretchen Berg takes place in Wooster, Ohio in the early 1950s. It follows the story of Vivian Dalton, an operator who has a tendency to listen in on conversations as she connects them. When she overhears something that will change her world, theres no turning back.

The town I call home wouldnt be the town it is today if it werent for a telecommunications company that was founded here. A lot of the history I know about the town I learned from someone who used to work as the
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Susan (LoftNine)
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Last book of 2019 and the last book of the decade! And wow! What a great way to wrap the year and decade! Thanks to @bookclubgirl and @williammorrowbooks for the ARC of The Operator.

The Operator is an interesting slice of life book. Set in a small town in New York State, this story touches on how small a small town can be and how we all love a good bit of gossip or scandal until it impacts us. A study on jealousy, pride, and forgiveness, our fouls and foibles, and what pushes us and how we
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Gretchen spent many years working in the fields of education and travel. Her parents had always encouraged her to write, but she waited until she heard you are a writer" from more trustworthy advisors: a London psychic, and a taxicab driver in Athens, Greece. The taxicab driver also said they had been lovers in a previous life.

After finishing a humorous memoir in 2010 she ventured into the field
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