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A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff
Member Name: pink_glitter
A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff
Advantages: Easy to read, light, intriguing storyline, a bit different from most chick-lit
Disadvantages: Main character slightly overshadowed by character of Mrs Bell
After several years of appraising and selling vintage clothing at an auction house, Phoebe Swift is opening her very own vintage clothing store, Village Vintage. This is the moment she's been dreaming of for years, and whilst it should be a happy time in her life, it is overshadowed by something that happened in the past...
Phoebe's lifelong friend Emma has recently died, and Phoebe feels a sense of guilt about the whole situation. Her and Emma had drifted apart after Phoebe began dating Guy, the man Emma had her eye on. After Emma's death, she left Guy and has refused to speak to him since, blaming him for the fact she was not there when her friend needed her.
When Phoebe meets an elderly Frenchwoman, Mrs Bell, who wants to sell some of her clothes to Village Vintage, she notices a beautiful blue child's coat in Mrs Bell's wardrobe. When Mrs Bell finds Phoebe looking at it, she becomes upset and tells her the coat is not for sale. As the two women talk, Mrs Bell calms down and begins to reveal the story of the blue coat. In a tale that eerily echoes Phoebe's own story, the two women find that they have more in common than a love of clothes. Can Mrs Bell's tale help Emma finally get over her guilt?
I had read Isabel Wolff's first two novels only last year, and enjoyed them, but this was the first of her more recent works I had read. I bought it because I had read a few positive reviews and also because the theme of vintage clothing appealed to me.
The character of Phoebe is a likeable one, although saying that I don't think she is particularly memorable. I think Mrs Bell was a much more interesting, and I was eager to read the pages where she featured, as I wanted to hear her story and what had happened so many years ago.
The theme of vintage clothing is one I enjoyed and I loved reading about all of the beautiful clothes in Phoebe's shop. These are mentioned quite a lot though, and sometimes the descriptions are quite detailed, so maybe if fashion's not something you're interested in, then perhaps you may find it boring.
There is a little sub-plot involving four 50's style prom dresses which Phoebe refers to as 'Cupcake dresses'. As the book goes on we meet the four women who purchase the dresses, each of them with their own little story which again is something I enjoyed reading and adds a bit of extra interest to the story.
No chick-lit offering would be complete without a love interest, and Phoebe, lucky thing, gets two. These come in the shape of Dan, a colour-blind journalist, and Miles a suave and sophisticated older man with a spoilt brat of a teenage daughter. To be honest though, I couldn't really see the appeal in either of them! Dan bored me with his constant references to black and white films, and Miles might have been OK if it wasn't for his pandering to the every whim of his bratty daughter.
Although the whole story was tinged with sadness in the case of both women, I didn't feel like this was a sad book really. Yes, in fairness it did have it's sad moments, but it still most definitely is chick-lit, and I found it a fairly light, easy to read novel. I'm normally quite a slow reader, but I got through this book relatively quickly as the story was fast paced and there was always something happening. I must admit though I did think there was a bit of a lull in the middle where I got a little bit bored. This was the part where Phoebe goes to stay with Miles' cousin - I just thought that it dragged a bit.
There are a few little twists and turns in this book. I wouldn't have said they were particularly huge, and most of them I saw coming, but that didn't really spoil it for me too much.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and I could see that Isabel Wolff's writing has really got much better over time. If you're looking for a light, girly novel, then I would recommend giving this one a read.
Summary: The best I've read by Isabel Wolff