A Vintage Affair, by Isabel Wolff

I have some significant problems with Isabel Wolff's novel A Vintage Affair, but I want to do it justice: this would be a solid choice to bring on an airplane—briskly paced, densely plotted, and engrossing enough to distract you from the kid kicking the back of your seat.

Wolff's heroine is textile expert Phoebe Swift, who is about to open a high-end vintage boutique. Phoebe's shop is an immediate success, and she soon meets two possible love interests (wealthy solicitor Miles and eccentric journalist Dan), along with several new friends and clients, and a frail, elderly Frenchwoman named Mrs. Bell. Like Phoebe, Mrs. Bell is weighed down by guilt over the death of a childhood friend, and Phoebe grows increasingly obsessed with the idea of helping Mrs. Bell find peace.

If you're looking for a dazzling romance, A Vintage Affair is not a good bet. Both of Phoebe's suitors lack charm: rich, spineless Miles is obviously a non-starter, and Dan's behavior is frequently on the wrong side of the fine line between "whimsical" and "legit crazy". (Immediately after meeting Phoebe, Dan writes an article announcing—without Phoebe's knowledge or consent—that her store is having a week-long sale. He justifies himself by telling Phoebe: “I just thought an introductory offer might be... you know... good for business.” I'm like: LAWSUIT TIME.) Thankfully, the romantic storyline only takes up a small portion of the novel, and fans of inter-generational friendship stories, Nora Roberts-style tales about running small businesses, and, of course, vintage fashion should find the rest of A Vintage Affair to be a satisfying read.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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