The Secret Life of Violet Grant
by Beatriz Williams
Genre: Fiction/Chick Lit
Published: 5/27/14 by Penguin Group
3.75 out of 5 stars
I'm fluctuating between 3.5 and 4 stars on this book, so I guess I will just settle for a middle rating of 3.75! I received an advanced copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
The Secret Life of Violet Grant is the story of two women: Vivian Schuyler who lives in Manhatten in the 1964 and her aunt Violet Grant, a scientist in Europe in 1914. The novel alternates between these two women's stories chapter by chapter. Vivian receives a package in the mail containing a mysterious suitcase, which leads her on a journey to discover the secrets of Violet's past (enter the murder mystery). And in the process, she also happens to meet the love of her life (enter the romance/chick lit).
This book is hard for me to categorize. It reads like chick lit, with a little bit of (slightly trashy) romance, murder mystery and historical fiction thrown in as well. For the most part, I really found myself enjoying the story. And I really loved the character of Vivian, especially her bold, spunky, sarcastic dialogue! She may not be for everyone, but I found her interesting, perhaps because she is the exact opposite of me in every way!
I read a lot of novels that use this style of writing with the story alternating between two characters and time periods. Generally, I don't enjoy this style as I tend to only care about one story/time period and not the other. However, in The Secret Life of Violet Grant, I genuinely was interested in both Vivian and Violet, and I never groaned in disappointment when the chapters switched. So that's definitely a plus!
Thinking of the negatives, I felt the plot to be contrived and unbelievable at times. There is a love at first sight storyline that just didn't work for me. If I stop to think about the whole story, especially the ending, I'm not sure that the whole thing holds together soundly. I didn't love the ending.
I think this was a decent summer beach read; a fairly light read with a mystery involved that adds some suspense and intrigue. (To some of my friends who may be reading this, I will warn you that this is not a wholesome read. It is a bit graphic at some times, especially with some parts related to sexual abuse).