I’m always in search of a good guilty pleasure book. You know, a book I can fly through, enjoying the writing and the ease of the storyline. I thought I found that when I read the synopsis of A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff, but I what I received was a heartfelt story of the strength of friendship and the power of fashion. Vintage fashion to be exact.
Our protagonist Phoebe Swift is going through some major life changes. After the death of her best friend Emma and her broken engagement to dreamboat Guy, Phoebe leaves her newly promoted position at a prominent company to open a very lux vintage clothing shop. At first she is frantic about the investment she has made and recounts all possible ways to fail, but with the help of free advertisement in a local newspaper, her shop grows. Not only does Phoebe get to delight in her own store, but she also gets to go to auctions for new inventory and take trips to France for browsing the markets. She also mills through old wardrobes often in the presence of the owner, in search of a stand out piece that is both in pristine condition and relevant to fashion trends. On her many outings Phoebe meets people who help to shape her future, including debonaire Miles and more importantly Mrs. Bell.
Mrs. Bell is a frail beauty, house-ridden due to old age and illness. She owns a closet full of designer pieces, all kept beautifully spanning over forty or so years. When Phoebe arrives to survey Mrs. Bell’s collection, she is taken aback by a little blue coat that hangs beside extravagant evening wear. Curiosity getting the best of her, Phoebe inquires about the coat. Mrs. Bell, though curt at first, slowly opens up about the tiny treasure she had kept all her years, saving it for someone she could never forget. In this story, Phoebe finds a kindred spirit with Mrs. Bell and is determined to bring her peace of mind before she passes.
My favorite part of this book was the way my imagination painted Village Vintage, Phoebe’s store. As I love antiquing and vintage clothing, envisioning the beautiful displays and designer selections was just fun. Believe me when I say I have reignited vigor for owning and wearing vintage now. The heavy emphasis on the Nazi invasion was a surprise to me, as present in the stories of Mrs. Bell, and as you can guess, I had some tears. I did not particularly agree with the man Phoebe ends up with, but I’m a terrible romantic so that’s to blame. Aside from that, there were characters to jeer at, cheer for, and outfits that will leave you drooling.
If you are looking for a fun holiday book to peak your interest in both fashion and vintage wears, I highly recommend A Vintage Affair. It will have you dreaming of English countryside, French wine, and the best vintage clothing money can buy. What’s not to love?
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