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The Operator

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  3,873 ratings  ·  866 reviews
In a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business . . .Nobody knows the people of Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operator Vivian Dalton. She calls it intuition. Her teenage daughter, Charlotte, calls it eavesdropping.

Vivian and the other women who work at Bell on East Liberty Street connect lines and lives. They aren’t supposed to listen in on conversations,
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by William Morrow (first published March 3rd 2020)
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Penny The Author's Note indicates that the story is "loosely" based on her grandmother. Also, her Great-Aunt Ginny (grandmother's sister) "really did thwart…moreThe Author's Note indicates that the story is "loosely" based on her grandmother. Also, her Great-Aunt Ginny (grandmother's sister) "really did thwart the armed robbery at the William Annat Company department store." One could conclude that Gretchen Berg does have a family connection to Wooster going back a few decades ago.(less)
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Average rating 3.28  · 
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Jun 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The Operator by Gretchen Berg is a 2020 William Morrow publication.

A bit of a mixed bag-

The premise for this book is certainly intriguing-

Set in a small town in Ohio, Vivien, a telephone operator with an unethical penchant for listening in on other people’s phone conversations, overhears a tantalizing piece of gossip that could upend her entire life. Therefore, she must hunt down the perpetrator of the rumor and investigate all ramifications no matter what painful truths she uncovers in the pr
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
In the 1950s, small town telephone switchboard operator Vivian Dalton habitually listens in on calls. One day she hears a piece of gossip about her family that disrupts her life. Unfortunately, what she hears isn’t revealed in the book until about the 40% point. Once it was finally revealed, the secrets about the townsfolk just kept coming.

The backstories of some of the characters in this book turn out to be slightly deeper and more serious than they first appear from the simplistic manner in w
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

2.5 Stars

Man, I have a disappoint. This book had so much potential. To sum things up briefly, The Operator is a story that takes place back in the 1950s in a little town called Wooster, Ohio. The main character of the story is a gal named Vivian, who makes a living working for Ma Bell . . . .

Like all of the other operators, occasionally Vivian likes to listen in on a call or twelve two in order to keep up with the local gossip
I Was Connected!

I really liked this book although it wasn't the light read I’d anticipated. The Operator comprises humor yes, but also deeper life observations and sadder moments too.

I was expecting laughter and gossip as the switchboard operators listened to private conversations but much of the story takes place away from Vivian’s job. Her husband, sisters, daughter, neighbors, and friends compose portions of the book taking turns narrating and in different time periods.

There are mysteries to
Even though they weren't supposed to, Vivian and the other girls who sat at the switchboards of Ohio Bell on East Liberty Street listened in on the telephone calls. Each and every day they plugged their cords into the jacks, flipped their switches, and leaned into their headsets to find out what was going on around Wooster. You might say they were the ears of the town.

I come from a long line gossipy women. In fact, I still maintain that my mother and aunt attended church religiously NOT to save
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Operators listening in on conversations?

It’s the 1950’s, 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 wi
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it

In 1952, 38-year-old Vivian Dalton is a telephone operator in Wooster, Ohio. Vivian connects and disconnects phone calls and - though it's strictly against the rules - often listens in.

Thus Vivian is privy to the town's latest news and gossip. Vivian is especially interested in Wooster's 'Queen Bee', Betty Miller, whose father is Wooster's mayor and bank manager.

Betty Miller had a privileged childhood, married well, and is now inordinately proud of her beautiful house, fashionable clothes, well-
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
Set in 1950s Wooster, Ohio, The Operator is a story about evesdropping and gossip—two 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. Alth
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a clever, witty, snarky little piece of fiction! I have always been fascinated with the 1950's, and this book pulls all of the best and worst of that era. Phone operators had the most exciting job, as the way one made a phone call then was to dial the operator and say "number please." Who wouldn't listen on calls?! That's a temptation I wouldn't be able to pass up either ...

In The Operator, there isn't anyone who knows the citizens of small town Wooster, Ohio, better than switchboard operat
May 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
3.5 Small Town Eavesdropping Stars

Set in a small Ohio town in the 1950s we meet a telephone operator, Vivian, who gets more than she bargained for when she listens in to one of the calls that she has connected. Many of the operators listen in on conversations, but this one has huge implications for Vivian and her family.

I could resonate with this one since I grew up in a small town at it seemed like the whole town knew the gossip in a short amount of time. The local busybody in town seems to hav
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.
The Operator is a vivid, wealthy historical fiction that provides us with many emotions all at once! The story is set in the 1950s, and Vivian is the main character who is a mother with a bad habit that will take a huge turn within the book, you can feel every page in this book because it has details that will make you laugh and will make you go through a journey of emotions!
The operator is elaborated in a fascinating past road, the background is fully designed so witty and archaic and it make
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was surprised by how much I loved this book.

Vivian Dalton likes a bit of gossip, why not after all. That way you can learn to "understand" your neighbours better. Purely for selfless reasons of course LOL. She is a telephone operator in the 1950s so she is well placed to accidently overhear something about her neighbours private life. Accidently on purpose that is.

But she a married woman with a daughter of course has her own private life and so there are things that could be found about her as
Kris - My Novelesque Life
2020; William Morrow/HarperCollins

Wow, The Operator really blew me away. I have to admit I requested this book just based on the gorgeous cover. I love old telephones, and's the history buff in me. This novel is set in a small town in America, in the 1950s, so I was sold! The music in the beginning of my audiobook, had me thinking this was a suspenseful novel...and it kind of was. The Operator is a lot like the novel, Olive Kitteridge in so many ways. Both are about
Kathryn in FL
Gretchen Berg provides an insightful story that really rang true to this reader. The setting of the story is an important element that initially drew me to the story. It takes place primarily in a small little mid-western town, of Wooster, Ohio. For those who haven't grown up in a small town, they often mirror the childhood game of telephone.

Gossip is the main entertainment and foundational to much of the interaction of the community. There are no secrets that won't be unearthed. Thus, the very
May 08, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You know, I simply wanted a fun, gossipy read. I wanted some mindless drama. I wanted something FUN. Instead, all I got was misery, rage, and bottomless disgust.

There is so much wrong with this story that I am genuinely AMAZED anyone can give it more than one star. From the basic, boring, and frankly annoying writing to the obnoxious and unlikable characters to the disgusting use of race as plot devices, I struggle to understand how ANYONE can glean ANY enjoyment out of this story.

I'm not going
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. ...more
This was really a fun book. Loved all the convoluted trails of peoples lives winding and crossing and mixing in this little town in mid America. In the 1950s. You’d think nothing happens in a little town? You’d be surprised.
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Seldom have I read a book filled with the most uninteresting, unappealing, unattractive cast of characters as this one. Set in a small town, early 1950's, Vivian, the MC is a telephone operator who listens in on conversations, thereby getting the 'scoop' or early gossip on what's going on where and when and with whom and what and how many times.

The whole book is a constant display of catty behavior among a group of woman who can't wait to one-up each other in terms of money, social status, what
Carol (Reading Ladies)
DNF 21%
* I don’t appreciate profanity that takes God’s name in vain ....very insensitive to Christians in my opinion.
* I was expecting likable and quirky characters and charming and cozy. It doesn’t come across that the author really likes her characters or the setting.
* Not the right read for me but others have loved it!
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. It’s such a great feeling when you know you are about to be taken on an amazing journey. The worst feeling is when that doesn’t 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 e
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
Faith B
May 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
Y'all. I'm so sorry. But this book is utter garbage. It's not even fun garbage. I WISH it had just been fun fluffy garbage. That would have been the perfect thing to read in a pandemic! Instead, it's just awful.

The main plot of the story is drawn out in the most insufferable way, and every single character is the most hatable character you've ever encountered. I truly don't know whether Berg intentionally wrote her main character, Vivian, in such a way as to make us actually hate her. Vivian is
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel is a well-written debut by Gretchen Berg. Set in 1950's middle-America, where life rigidly moves according to the dictated social norm, Vivian Dalton is a telephone operator whose existence appears to conform with this model. Her carefully crafted mold is shattered by a dark family secret and she is forced to look at herself squarely in the mirror. A side plot has a similar pattern, pitting neighbor against neighbor, leading to a shocking conclusion.

The pace was uneven; at times the p
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 st ...more
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. ...more
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Loved the small town atmosphere, and the addition of those old school recipes was a nice touch.
Neither of the characters are particularly likeable, but the way all the "scandalous" gossips tie them together was rather entertaining. It's easy to go around judging others without having a good, honest look at ourselves first.
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.

Novels N Latte
Hudson Valley NY
Ashley *Booksbrewsandbarks*
I had very high hopes for this book, as I have always loved the idea of switchboard operators and the world in which they were integral to communication. While the way everything in this book ended up tying together quite well, it lacked in too many places for me. At the end of the day, there was just not enough of Vivian actually being a switchboard operator and the overall storyline didn't make up for that.

This book carries a number of mysteries throughout its pages, which will leave the read
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Mt. Lebanon Publi...: The Operator by Gretchen Berg 1 8 Jun 04, 2020 05:22PM  

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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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