Tiny Little Thing

Written by Beatriz Williams
Review by Sarah Johnson

Beatriz Williams’ novels are deliciously addictive. Although her latest is a less complex story than The Secret Life of Violet Grant, it has the same winning combination of intriguing characters, zippy prose, and realistic dialogue.

Unlike her exuberant younger sister Vivian, one of the previous book’s heroines, Christina “Tiny” Hardcastle had been groomed to be the perfect hostess and spouse. By marrying handsome Frank, an aspiring Congressman, she has achieved her and her family’s goal – yet feels the weight of responsibility upon her petite shoulders. She appears to have the support of her husband and his formidable family, especially after her recent miscarriage, but in the summer of ’66, which the Hardcastles spend together, Kennedy-style, on Cape Cod, Tiny’s perfect world starts falling apart.

First an incriminating photo and blackmailed threat arrive in the mail, and then her secret former lover, Frank’s cousin Caspian, returns from Vietnam a war hero and helps bolster Frank’s first political campaign. Caspian seems honorable and trustworthy, so Tiny can’t imagine he’d be blackmailing her – but how did the photos he took get into someone else’s hands? And thanks to a reporter’s questions and her own intuition, she suspects Frank’s hiding something, too. Providing unexpected moral support is Tiny’s beautiful sister, Pepper, whose adventures in the forthcoming Along the Infinite Sea promise to be most excellent

Novels showing the downsides of life amongst the glamorous elite are hardly new, but Tiny’s sympathetic and engaging voice, even addressing the reader on occasion, ensures she isn’t a cliché. The plight of returning Vietnam soldiers is touched upon only lightly, and Caspian feels a bit idealized, but in showing the pressures endured by celebrities of both genders, the novel sends a heartfelt message about the struggles everyone faces between our public and private selves.