“A Vintage Affair: A Novel” by Isabel Wolff

I’m not gonna lie, but the cover was the sole reason I bought this book.  I got it at a Borders going out of business sale, and the cover beckoned to me.  A Vintage Affair is an unconventional novel since it looks like chick-lit with pretty vintage dresses on the cover, but its main story involves a woman’s guilt about WWII and her friend who she may have accidentally sent to the gas chambers.  Yes, you read that right.  Dead Jews.  So, this novel is told by Phoebe Swift, who decides to change her life and open up her own vintage clothing store in merry ole England.  The beginning of the book focuses on her grieving over her best friend’s death and the end of her engagement.  To make matters more interesting, her parents have recently become divorced since her father, a contestant on a reality television show, left her mother and impregnated a new wife.  How logical is that?  Phoebe’s mother is of course devastated and wants a new change as well in the line of plastic surgery.  In other words, Phoebe and all of her closest relatives are a bit of a mess at the moment.

Anyway, the book is kind of all over the place.  Phoebe meets a great guy who owns a newspaper and gives her lots of publicity.  Dan is a quirky chap who invites Phoebe to his “shed” in his backyard for old noir movie watching.  Umm yeah.  A shed?  I was so confused.  Perhaps it is popular in England to throw parties in sheds. 

Then Phoebe meets a man who is handsome, wealthy, and oh so old at 49 (she keeps complaining how olllldddd he is.  Well then, don’t date an old guy if you don’t like old guys!) who has a ridiculously spoiled daughter.  Miles is uncharacteristically stupid in my opinion.  He’s really not likable at all other than the fact he is rich and handsome.  You would think the book would go between Miles and Dan throughout, but luckily, the author doesn’t pull the usual for the readers. 

Instead, we meet Therese Bell, an elderly lady wanting to sell her vintage clothing to Phoebe before she dies.  This part of the story is emotional and heart-wrenching and the best part of the book.  The men are fluff.  The other MILLIONS of miscellaneous characters are a bit too much in my opinion.  I did like how the fashion in this book was like its own character.  I have worked retail before, and I have never ONCE thought of a person’s back story/future as they were buying clothes.  (Perhaps that is the vintage mentality?) 

So yes, the book was light and fluffy and exactly what I needed.  Other than the fact it was a bit schizophrenic, I’d say it was enjoyable.

Jen’s Rating: ***

One thought on ““A Vintage Affair: A Novel” by Isabel Wolff

  1. Pingback: Bay Area Book Club-A Year in Review « Books in the Burbs

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