I received a copy of Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams in exchange for an honest review.
In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.
But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.
Political power families are as close to royalty as we get in the US. We have a fascination with the rich, powerful and beautiful people, and politics is the public stage upon which such people play. Beatriz Williams plays with this idea brilliantly in her new book Tiny Little Thing. I really wanted to hate this book—it’s all about the bourgeoisie with their money and political capital. (Think Kennedys—as I’m sure we are supposed to with the direct references to Boston and Cape Code.) They are the fruition of the “American Dream” but most of us are still dreaming, we haven’t woken up into that perfect, polished world yet. And that’s where Williams starts toying with us.
Tiny is a large personality, not quite conformed by the overbearing matriarch of her husband’s family. That’s not to say she is loud or obnoxious or ill bred—oh no! In fact, Tiny in most ways would make the perfect First Lady, and that’s what everyone in her family knows. But would the Hardcastles be the perfect First Family? Aye, now there’s the rub!
At first glance, these Cape Cod vacationing, Boston society-bred Hardcastles have everything and a little extra, that touch of tragedy that makes them just human enough for you to vote for them. But yes, my favorite of all Shakespeare lines, “Something is rotten in the state of [Massachusetts].” You can smell it in the first drop of vodka Tiny pours into her lemonade. There is a simultaneously alluring and repelling quality about the privilege these characters enjoy. It is accompanied by an entitlement and a desperation. There is a hard edge to each and every character that belies the shiny veneer. There’s a feeling that everything isn’t quite right, even though nothing seems exactly wrong. But the question is what is it?
Is it just the stench of greed emanating from the blackmail letter Tiny receives? Why is Tiny being blackmailed? Who is the blackmailer? And why, on the brink of her happily-ever-after, does the blackmailer choose this moment to send her the first picture?
So many questions, so little time. You’ll want to make some time for this read!
Rating: 4 ½ Stars