Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

             I often read mysteries and recently, have also been reading a great deal of paranormal / supernatural, dystopian / post-apocalyptic, and thriller / suspense novels.  In reading such stories it is easy to forget how simple stories about ordinary people can be wonderful.  A Vintage Affair reminded me of that.  The story centers around Phoebe Swift who after a dozen (successful) years working at an auction house decides to open her own shop selling vintage clothes.  Phoebe has recently suffered a devastating personal loss.  Throughout the novel we (the readers) follow Phoebe as she learns how to live and love after the loss.  We also get to meet a variety of people that Phoebe comes into contact with through her shop.  It is a delightful and simple story and one that I very much enjoyed reading.

As a librarian-archivist something that interests me is objects other than books or other forms of writing as a form of communication.  Objects carry a history.  Aside from their functionality, objects remind people of the past generally and specifically.  By generally, I mean a particular dress may contribute to the understanding of the past by later generations.  For example, the availability of textiles may influence fashion during a period of war as much as social tastes and trends.  On a more personal and specific level, objects often remind people of a specific time or event in their life.  For instance, one of the characters in the novel looks at her old dress and remembers attending a movie premiere and dancing with Sean Connery.  In this way objects, in this case clothes, communicate a personal and a general history, both large and small.  That is a large part of what appealed to me about A Vintage Affair.  In particular, there is a story line involving a blue coat that connects to a very large and very personal World War II story. There are also smaller story lines, like one involving a woman who buys a pink 1950s cupcake dress to help remind her happiness exists during a very sad time in her life.

About the pictures of the cover above, there are two covers that I've seen.  I love the first one, with the red gown on display and a selection of dresses in the background.  It is elegant and timeless.  It very much captured the spirit of the book.  Forget about not judging a book by its cover, what initially attracted me to this book was the beautiful cover.  I realized later that I had heard and seen this book previously but the version I initially saw had the cover with the the pink dress on a hanger against a turquoise background.  That cover did nothing for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I look forward to your comments. Tell me about the books you're reading.