A Vintage Affair stars Phoebe Swift as a just turned 30 woman who has opened her second-hand clothing store in September. She doesn't buy just any second-hand clothing, she buys vintage clothing featuring top of the line designers. I am not a clothes horse, and can't afford
As with all fairy tales, there is some sadness, and darkness, and Phoebe can't outrun hers, as much as she tries. Her best friend has died, and the reasons why she has died and why Phoebe blames herself, make up some of the dark part of the book. The ending is a lovely surprise, as Phoebe learns how the shock of what happened to Emma has altered her memories surrounding the event.
The other dark part is also a much darker story that evolves in the story of Mrs Bell, who is hiding a tragic story of her own in the history of a child's coat she hides in her wardrobe. WW 2 and France are involved here, so there is a real layer of history underlining this story, some tragic. Just as there is in some of the clothing Phoebe buys from her various estate sales and sellers. Because this is a fairy tale, there are happy endings all around for those who deserve them, though there are many tears (at least from me) along the way. As well, there is the discovery of love, and the things that love can bear. There is tragedy and farce in equal measure here, which makes what could have been a difficult story to read, a real pleasure.
All in all this is a charming story - I loved it, and it made me smile when I needed it. I really enjoyed Phoebe and her mother, her father, Annie who wanders in and ends up working at the store, Mrs Bell, and Dan and his dream of opening a theatre - quite a few of the characters have dreams of doing things and are pursuing them, which are part of fairy tales and magic and making dreams come true. I love all the clothing in her store. I would love to find a store like that here! Just to go in and gaze at the lovely vintage fashions from yesteryear, and hope the clothing finds a new life, just as Phoebe wants the clothes she buys for the shop to find a new owner as well. Very sweet, and recommended for anyone who needs a lift on a down day. Or some enjoyable reading for a summer's hot afternoon.
Here is a link to Isabel Wolff talking about the fashion research and WW 2 and France research that went into her novel.