Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Vintage Affair, by Isable Wolff

I saw this book at the store a while back, and wanted to buy it for my friend who owns a vintage shop because I thought it sounded interesting.  Also, I've read two other books by Isabel Wolff and really liked both of them.  Then as holiday travel approached, I needed a book to keep me entertained while waiting in airports and on planes.  I saw this available at the library and snapped it up.  Very glad I did.

What I like most about Wolff's books are that her main characters are strong women, who don't need a man to validate their existence.  Wolff's stories are never about women seeking men or losing men or trying to navigate life with a man.  Instead, her characters are trying to figure out who they are and what they need to "live their best life" - yes, I stole that phrase from Oprah, but it fit.  In this book Phoebe has suffered a tragic loss and is trying to reaccess her life - get her act together and move on. 

She's ended her engagement, a situation which was tainted with bad energy already - and has left a stressful, but successful career to start her own business.  This is the story of how that works out for her.

There are several different storylines - Phoebe dealing with her past, trying to navigate her future, her mother's attempts at moving forward after suffering her own loss, Phoebe's relationships with an elderly women whose life is ending, the storylines of the characters who shop at Phoebe's vintage shop, as well as the stories of the dresses.  It never felt like too many things happening, but rather a very realistic snapshot of the life surrounding Phoebe and her store.

There were parts of the book that were very sad, others that felt hopeful.  This book is about friendships and guilt and grief and forgiveness and the way all of those things mingle together and affect everyday life.  There isn't a nice, happy ending because that wouldn't be possible considering the circumstances.  But there is hope at the end. 

I'd recommend this to anyone who wants a quick, interesting read.  Not too romantic or sappy, but emotionally powerful.  Also, the stories about the dresses are interesting.  I know nothing about fashion, but this did spark my interest in vintage clothing.  A big plus that the story took place in London, in areas that I remember from my time spent there, and there's even a trip to France included (an area I've not visited, but would like to someday.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

It Looked Different on the Model by Laurie Notaro

I spent two weeks trying to make my way through a non-fiction book about Berlin under the early days of Hitler.  Not exactly a light or enjoyable read.  I finally gave up on the book and I wanted something fun. 

Was so pleased to see this book by Laurie Notaro.  I love her writing, she's so funny. 

This book was so very funny, one night as I sat here reading it, I was laughing so hard I was crying and my whole body was sore.  I couldn't stop laughing.  This is one of those books that I've told everyone they need to read and I'll probably buy a few copies to give as Christmas gifts.

Of course, as I found out last time I insisted on everyone reading one of her books, not everyone gets her sense of humor.  But then again, I tend to not be amused by things that most people find funny.

Notaro writes about simple, every day situations, that become hilarious.  Such as trying on a shirt that's a size too small and then getting trapped in it, or being banned from the satellite post office for wanting to purchase too many two cent stamps.  I could especially relate to having lost an iPhone - which I did this summer and felt the same raging hatred for the person who now I had my phone and all my photos and notes.  The funniest story was about her husband thinking she was eating candy in bed.  I won't tell you what happened, but highly recommend you find a copy and read it.