Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review: A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

First line: "...seven-teen, eight-teen...nine-teen...twenty!"

From the inside cover: Her friends are stunned when Phoebe Swift abruptly leaves a plum job at the prestigious Sotheby's auction house to open her own vintage clothing shop in London - but to Phoebe, it's the fulfillment of a dream. In the sunlight-flooded interior of Village Vintage, surrounded by Yves Saint Laurent silk scarves, Vivienne Westwood bustle skirts, cupcake dresses, and satin gowns, Phoebe hopes to make her store the hot new place to shop, even as she deals with two ardent suitors, her increasingly difficult mother, and a secret from her past that casts a shadow over her new venture.

For Phoebe, each vintage garment carries its own precious history. Digging for finds in attics and wardrobes, Phoebe is rewarded whenever she finds something truly unique, for she knows that when you buy a piece of vintage clothing, you're not just buying fabric and thread - you're buying a piece of someone's past. But one particular article of clothing will soon unexpectedly change her life.

Therese Bell, an elderly Frenchwoman, has an impressive clothing collection. But among the array of smart suits and couture gowns, Phoebe finds a child's sky-blue coat - an item with which Mrs. Bell is stubbornly reluctant to part. As the two women become friends, Phoebe will learn the tale of that little blue coat. And she will discover an astonishing connection between herself and Therese Bell - one that will help her heal the pain of her own past and allow her to love again.

My thoughts: This was a beautiful story that I devoured in a day because I just couldn't put it down! It was my first book by Isabel Wolff and won't be my last. Of course, part of what drew me to this book was the beautiful cover! More than just chick lit, this is part Holocaust story, part fashion history lesson and part romance. A Vintage Affair is a story of love, forgiveness and new beginnings. This book has many layers. From Phoebe's past with Emma and Guy, to Mrs. Bell's story, to the story of the cupcake dresses, to the story with Dan, to the story with Miles, there are lots of things going on, and the author's masterful execution makes all of them blend together seamlessly. Each character is properly developed, and we come away with a sense that we know them well. I loved how with every piece of clothing Phoebe acquires for her vintage store, a story would emerge. Some of the stories are in the past, such a tale about the French occupation and a tiny blue coat or a box of unworn lacy slips that never got to experience the light of day- and some of the stories begin when people walk into Phoebe's shop, such as beautiful prom dresses from the 1960's that find new happiness with young, hardworking girls who covet them today. And there is Phoebe's own story, which gets revealed as she shares herself with the people who reveal their stories (and clothing) to her.  Filled with fascinating details about vintage fashion, classic films, vineyards, and World War II in Europe, this is a story that stays with you long after you read the last page.

(I purchased this book.)
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6 comments

  1. I read this book a few months ago, and like you I loved it.

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  2. @Gigi Ann Have you read any other books by her? I hope they are as good as this one!

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  3. I have this one on my Nook. Can't wait to read it now!

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  4. This one just looks so lovely! I will add it to my list.

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  5. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book. And honestly, it just sounds like something I would absolutely love. I don't know what I'm waiting for - I need to pick this up ASAP!

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  6. Forget Koontz and forget his book “What the Night Knows” (a ghost vengeance story, been there, done that), instead read a book that’s really been BANNED like “America Deceived II” by E.A. Blayre III.
    Last link (before Google Books bans it also]:
    http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000190526

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