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.)

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