“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.”
Thoughts on the Novel: While not the strongest of her novels so far, Tiny Little Thing will not disappoint Ms. Williams’ fans. She brings the same gorgeous prose and impeccable descriptions to Tiny’s story as she has done with everything else. What is lacking, however, is a hard-luck story with a fascinating historical backdrop. Tiny’s story is interesting, but it is not necessarily relatable. There is a notable absence of danger and too much attention devoted to the privileges afforded the Hardcastle and Schuyler families to take the story to the next level.
In many ways, Tiny’s story is reminiscent of Rose in the movie Titanic; in fact, there is one scene in particular which will have readers immediately recalling the movie. Like Rose, Tiny is feisty but has spent her entire life obeying and following the careful path set in place for her by her mother. She is a wealthy girl who chafes at the gilded cage that surrounds her. She knows she has no right to complain but cannot help but feeling trapped by the family ambition and her belief in her husband’s potential career. It is only through interactions with her sister and the return of the mysterious Caspian when she finally gives herself permission to start showing her true personality and fighting for her freedom. However, unlike when Rose, the only thing at stake here is Tiny’s happiness and Frank’s political career.
Still, even without the lack of life-or-death battle, Tiny Little Thing contains plenty of drama. While one may not be able to relate to a life of untold wealth and privilege, one can relate to Tiny’s need for happiness, her longing for a simpler life, and a love that is pure, honest and whole. There is also Mad Men-era sexism and bias displayed so despicably by the Hardcastle men that will make a modern-day reader’s blood boil. Tiny’s story is emotionally powerful, which is the novel’s biggest strength.
Given the fact that Ms. Williams will soon be releasing the final novel in the Schuyler sisters’ series and certain events that occur at the end of this one, readers may feel like Tiny Little Thing is a filler story meant to tide over readers until that last novel. It is simply lacking the mystery and intrigue from Vivian’s story (The Secret Life of Violet Grant) and from the synopsis of Pepper’s, Along the Infinite Sea. Good but not great given Ms. Williams’ previous novels, readers will still enjoy Tiny Little Thing but wish for more depth and action.