Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

After reading a lot of CRAP women's novels in the last year or so, I was delighted to finally get some good stuff this year (be sure to see my posts about Katherine Center and Allison Winn Scotch for examples of the good stuff!)

As you know, I do a Summer Beach Reads Roundup for Library Journal. This year, there was a book that I enjoyed so much, I asked my editor to please let it run as a separate review instead of the shorter reviews that get into the article.

Isabel Wolff's A Vintage Affair has totally renewed my faith in women's fiction (British women's fic to be specific!) I've read several of her chick lit novels before, but they were from the early 2000s - to be honest I hadn't even realized she was still writing. Turns out, she just hasn't been published in the US for a while. Thanks, Bantam, for bringing her back to us!

Wolff, Isabel. A Vintage Affair. Bantam. Jul. 2010. c.257p. ISBN 978-0-553-80783-7.

Vintage clothing lover Phoebe opens her own resale boutique in London's Blackheath neighborhood, meeting much success. She's grateful for the hustle and bustle the shop provides, because it lets her forget her guilt over the death of her best childhood friend, not to mention that she just left her fiancĂ© at the altar. When the elderly Mrs. Bell contracts with Phoebe to sell her entire wardrobe, Phoebe finds herself reeled in by the story of Mrs. Bell's childhood friend, thought lost in the horrors of the Holocaust. Additionally, our heroine's got not one but two new suitors keeping her on her toes. Sounds like a lot, but Wolff manages to keep every story line interesting and on track, including plenty of fashion talk. VERDICT:  Fans of British chick lit, rejoice! (And readers who aren't already fans, prepare to become such.) With a wide cast of realistic, wonderfully drawn characters, a deft blending of the past with the present, and a seemingly effortless managing of several plots at once, this charming novel by the author of Behaving Badly and The Trials of Tiffany Trott deserves a place in all popular fiction collections.

Review from the May 1, 2010 issue of Library Journal. Copyright 2010 Library Journal/Rebecca Vnuk.

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