Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review -- A Vintage Affair

My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book source:  Personal copy
Genre: Fiction; Chick-lit
Objectionable material:  unmarried relations

Can you imagine playing dress up for a living?


Phoebe Swift does…in her vintage dress shop in London’s Blackheath neighborhood. With gowns, skirts, sweaters, bags, satins, crinolines, taffetas, wools, and beading, Phoebe has applied her Sotheby’s expertise to the reemergence of selling and wearing classic clothes.

Her shop draws a variety of customers: newspaperman, Dan, wants to write lifestyle article about her shop; Miles who is trying to please his difficult daughter with the purchase of a vintage gown for a society fundraiser; Mrs. Bell who is selling her wardrobe of vintage clothes, with the exception of a special blue coat; and Emma, whose memory lingers over it all.

This was the quintessential British chick lit book – worthy of a Hugh Grant/Renee Zellweger cast.

Author, Isabel Wolff, has created a boutique any customer would dream of lazing the afternoon away looking at all the exquisitely crafted garments. One only wishes pictures had been included.

The story line and characters are less well crafted, however: a convoluted story where Phoebe is plagued with guilt over the death of a friend; a busted romance; a WWII era missing person; a midlife crisis, divorced Dad – it was like a polka dot shirt matched with a striped skirt.

Regardless of what it lacked, remarkably, I still really enjoyed it. Phoebe was fun – and it made me wish I could play dress up in my grandmother’s closet.

It was a “right place at the right time” kind of book.