Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

Title: A Vintage Affair
Author: Isabel Wolff
Random House Audio
Release Date:
September 7, 2012
Rating:  5/5

Cover Impressions: I really like this cover.  The colors are muted but eye-catching.  You get just enough of a feel for the setting of the book and I LOVE that the cupcake dresses are featured.

The Gist:
Phoebe Swift has suffered a terrible loss.  Riddled with guilt and regret, she removes every trace of her old life and sets up Village Vintage, a vintage clothing shop, in the hopes of burying herself so fully in her business that she does not have time to dwell on the past.  In sourcing clothing for her shop, Phoebe encounters Therese Bell, an elderly woman with painful past of her own.  Through the tale of a child's blue coat, both women will come to a new understanding of love, loss and regret.

  In moving to a new school this year, I found myself in the thick of traffic for the first time since I started working.  In an attempt to circumvent the frustration of the bumper to bumper drive, I turned to the audio of A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff.  The narrator, Violet Mathieson, had a wonderful voice couple with a beautiful accent.  She was also quite skilled in creating voices and accents for each of the characters.  A Vintage Affair so enraptured me that I actually looked forward to getting stuck in traffic as it ensured me a few more moments in that world.

The characters themselves are almost all deeply flawed and beautifully broken.  The pain of both Phoebe and Mrs. Bell was palpable, as was the love for their lost friends and their regret at not having made different choices.  Supporting them, was a cast of men and women who all had issues of their own and who evoked in the reader a sense of understanding and sadness.  There are no villains here.

The descriptions in this novel made me long to walk into Village Vintage, to hear the bell tinkle overhead and to trace my hand along some of the beautiful fabrics that were sure to greet me.  If you have not developed a love of vintage clothing already, A Vintage Affair will certainly set you on that path.  I, personally, have fantasies of a deep purple cupcake dress.

While this novel is not exactly fast paced, it doesn't lag either.  The stories unfold themselves in intervals and, more often than not, the readers sneaking suspicions are proved correct.  The true beauty in this novel lies in the underlying humanity behind the characters' actions and the pain and regret that is so relatable by anyone who has suffered a loss. 

I highly recommend a venture into the painful and poignant world that Isabel Wolff has created.


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