Sunday 6 September 2009

Review: A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

Published: 2009
Pages: 429

In A Vintage Affair, the heroine, Phoebe Swift, has just opened a vintage dress shop in Blackheath. At the same time she is coping with the recent loss of her best friend, Emma. So Phoebe takes refuge in her work - restoring these wonderful old clothes to their former glory so that they can go on to have new lives. But what of the past lives these clothes have lived she often wonders? What stories would they tell if they could speak?

One day Phoebe meets an elderly French woman, Therese, who wishes to sell her some elegant dresses and suits. In Therese's wardrobe Phoebe also finds a child's sky-blue winter coat, from wartime France. At first Therese wishes not to reveal the coat's history but, as the two women become friends, she opens up. Phoebe listens to the poignant story of the little blue coat not knowing that it is to have a profound and uplifting connection with her own life...

I have a hard time coming up with a genre for this one, reviews have said it's a lovely romantic comedy and she is described as writing chick-lit. But first there is no humor in this one, and yes it has romance but not any more than a normal book. It's not focused on the romance., and i don't want to call it chick-lit. Let's just call it a "normal" book with romantic tendencies. But the book is so much more than that, it's about friendship and loss, and there is a story about WWII that almost breaks my heart and I keep on hoping.

Phoebe has lost her best friend and she is trying to cope with that, she has left her boyfriend, and she blames herself, him, and she missed Emma. How she die you learn after awhile as Phoebe talks with the old lady telling her story about Emma, their friendship and how it all ended. She is trying to go on and she has bought a store and transformed it into a vintage store since that is the clothes she love. Then one day she gets a call from an old French woman who wants to sell her clothes, but in her closet there is a little blue coat and Phoebe gets to hear a story as she visits, a story about friendship during a hard time in occupied France. There are similarities between their stories and perhaps they can find forgiveness and friendship in each other.

I enjoyed this book a lot and I could not put it down. Isabel Wolf weaves a wonderful and delightful story and the corner stones are the vintage clothes that Phoebe sells. They make the story. I feel like I want to wear them too, even though I am like Phoebe's mum, I don't want to wear old clothes. But they seem so lovely, and unique. She explains about the clothes, their history and meaning. Even if I don't know everything she makes me know.

There are sad parts too, I had hope for so long time and kept turning the page and wanting. To learn the truth, and I did feel sad at times. It does deal with some heavy things.

And yes there is some romance, she meets a man, is he the man, or is someone else for her. But I was always more fascinated in Phoebes relationship with the old woman, and the two stories belonging to that. But the romance needed to be had so she could move on and love again, because I wanted her to be happy. There is also the story about her parents and the search for understanding and forgiveness there, so there are some themes that echo in the book.

Delightful and wonderful is how I would like to describe it. It makes me want to go out and find a vintage shop. A very sweet read that made me hold my breath at times. I want to read more by this author.


  1. Hey hon,

    Gosh, where do you find all these great books? This one sounds good too!

    I think I'll give up writing so I can just read again...I feel like I'm missing so much.


  2. I saw this the other day for £1 and I wished I had picked it up now.

  3. Oh, you made this sound so wonderful. I need to get this one. Thank you for such a beautiful review. Glad you enjoyed the book so much.

    Have a great week and happy reading.

  4. So loved your review on this one. I want to read it!! I love the ideas behind the story concept and the cover is gorgeous!

  5. I have always loved the "patina" of old clothes. I remember buying several vintage suits when I was in college. I am definitely putting this on my wish list. Thank you for introducing me to it!

  6. I love the title of this book:) LOL- I like that it is a normal book ;) It sounds quite interesting..thanks for the review!

  7. This sounds like a lovely read, it's going on my wishlist. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Sounds great - a very good review.

    You have an award to pick up here:

    I posted it yesterday, but then had to go out before I told anyone! :)


  9. hawk,
    Lol, the library :) I can't believe that we actually do have good English books and plenty of them. Sometimes they do buy the right ones...even if I wish they could get some paranormal and fantasy too.

    Oh cheap. But how to know since there are so many good ones out there.

    Thanks. It was just so, yes delightful, even with it's sad bits. She did such an excellent job with this one for sure.

    I know, it's so lovely. I really want that dress now. And the idea of the story works so well with this book.

    You're welcome.
    I have never really bought anything old, perhaps cos most are sure not sold like the ones in this book. Instead I went shopping in my mums closet

    I do wanna label it like that, because chick-lit and comedy to me are sure something else.
    Truly wonderful book.

    I do hope you enjoy it if you happen to get it :)

    Aww thank you!! That is so sweet. Will go over now, I am making my blog rounds at the moment

  10. Sounds like a good read! Thanks for the great review. I have to say that I love the cover on this book!

  11. Ladybug,
    I know, even though I didn't see the cover the book still managed to stand out in the shelves and made me pick it up

  12. I'm intrigued by your review, particularly mention of a WWII story in the book. (You knew I'd say that right? LOL) And that cover is gorgeous! Thanks for the recommendation.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  13. Anna,
    yes I did think about when I read it :)And the WWII played a big part to the storyline cos of what happened then. It was the sad part of the book

  14. So do you think this would be a good selection for the WWII reading challenge? If so, would you mind if I linked to your review on the challenge site?

    Diary of an Eccentric

  15. Anna,
    I can't say, how much must be about WWII? Because yes the story plays an important part but the rest of the book is long. Then again it does deal with important subjects like the concentration camps in the little story inside



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