“Tiny Little Thing” by Beatriz Williams is a superb read. It combines politics, mystery and romance within a historical background. It is a character-driven storyline driven by the issues of the mid-1960s, including political intrigue, the controversy of the Vietnam veterans and the treatment of women.
The story alternates between the years 1964 and 1966. The reader becomes engrossed in the family dynamics. The narration switches between the main female character, Christina (Tiny) Hardcastle’s 1966 perspective and Major Caspian (Cap) Harrison’s 1964 outlook.
The plot begins with Tiny’s husband, Frank, attending the Medal of Honor Ceremony for his cousin Caspian. Frank sees this as a valued photo-op, which will help his run for Congress in Massachusetts. Intertwined in the political plotline is a mystery involving a photograph sent to Tiny and a car found in the Cape Cod shed of her husband’s family. Throughout the rest of the book readers become part of the character’s lives, being transported into the 1960s era, as they try to solve the secrets along with the characters.
“I wanted to write a compelling story of a political dynasty with the patriarch pushing behind the scenes for this to happen,” Williams told blackfive.net. “I always loved history from childhood. In college I majored in Anthropology that included the study of history and human nature. I was able to incorporate my studies into my writings, where history becomes the scenery, weaved into the plot. I think of myself as a historical novelist. The 1960s presented the friction between the traditional and the modern, which included intense social, political, economic and artistic change.”
One of the most fascinating characters is Maj. Caspian, who is modeled after John Wayne: strong, silent, a hero, masculine and honest. He becomes Tiny’s savior, who is trying to escape living the perfect façade.
Initially she has no say in her marriage, expected to be the perfect political wife. Together with her husband they are seen as the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and attractive. They must both live up to their parent’s expectations. But with the help of her sister, Pepper Schuyler, she gains strength and fights for her independence.
A supporting character, Tom, plays the antagonist to Caspian’s protagonist. Williams explores the treatment of U.S. soldiers upon their return from Vietnam in depth. Tom is constantly putting Cap down for enlisting and fighting in the war. Throughout the book he makes disgusting references to the major.
“I can’t sit here and eat dinner with these people,” Tom says. “You fat, satisfied pigs who give medals to f–king murderers.”
Yet, it is the major that grabs reader’s sympathies.
“I did a crash course in the Vietnam War,” Williams said. “I want the readers who were against the war to recognize they were blaming the wrong people. I deliberately portrayed one character, Tom, as obnoxious toward the major. He is someone who enjoys privilege without recognizing the sacrifice of those serving. He would certainly never make that sacrifice himself.
“My grandfather was a torpedo bomber in the Pacific during World War II. I understand the sacrifices made by soldiers. That is why I had Caspian lose a leg in the war. I wanted to emphasize people change in a fundamental way either physically or mentally.”
There is also a shout out to wounded warriors in the dedication and through Caspian, a paraplegic who lost a leg during the war. William’s writes, “To all those who return from war not quite whole and to the people who love them.” The story allows the reader to understand the sacrifices those serving have made for their country.
“Tiny Little Thing” is a fascinating look at wealth, love, power, ambition and to what length family members will go to protect each other. The historical events in the book are intertwined perfectly within the lives of the characters that make for a realistic and gripping story.