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A Vintage Affair: A Novel | [Isabel Wolff]

A Vintage Affair: A Novel

Her friends are stunned when Phoebe Swift abruptly leaves a plum job at the prestigious Sotheby’s auction house to open her own vintage clothing shop in London—but to Phoebe, it’s the fulfillment of a dream. In the sunlight-flooded interior of Village Vintage, surrounded by Yves Saint Laurent silk scarves, Vivienne Westwood bustle skirts, cupcake dresses, and satin gowns, Phoebe hopes to make her store the hot new place to shop.
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Publisher's Summary

Every dress has a history. And so does every woman.

In Isabel Wolff’s captivating A Vintage Affair, a treasured child’s coat becomes a thread of hope connecting two very different women.

Her friends are stunned when Phoebe Swift abruptly leaves a plum job at the prestigious Sotheby’s auction house to open her own vintage clothing shop in London—but to Phoebe, it’s the fulfillment of a dream. In the sunlight-flooded interior of Village Vintage, surrounded by Yves Saint Laurent silk scarves, Vivienne Westwood bustle skirts, cupcake dresses, and satin gowns, Phoebe hopes to make her store the hot new place to shop, even as she deals with two ardent suitors, her increasingly difficult mother, and a secret from her past that casts a shadow over her new venture.

For Phoebe, each vintage garment carries its own precious history. Digging for finds in attics and wardrobes, Phoebe is rewarded whenever she finds something truly unique, for she knows that when you buy a piece of vintage clothing, you’re not just buying fabric and thread - you’re buying a piece of someone’s past. But one particular article of clothing will soon unexpectedly change her life.

Thérèse Bell, an elderly Frenchwoman, has an impressive clothing collection. But among the array of smart suits and couture gowns, Phoebe finds a child’s sky-blue coat - an item with which Bell is stubbornly reluctant to part. As the two women become friends, Phoebe will learn the tale of that little blue coat. And she will discover an astonishing connection between herself and Thérèse Bell - one that will help her heal the pain of her own past and allow her to love again.

©2010 Isabel Wolff (P)2010 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“What makes this book stand out is Wolff’s passion for vintage fashion; velvety, silken prose describes the clothes and their history, with several pieces telling rich stories that develop into compelling sub-plots.” (Easy Living)

“Romance in a vintage clothes shop - we were sold from line one. Luckily, this book lives up to its hype, and is filled with all the sensory goodness that leads to inevitable comparisons to Joanne Harris - this is an author to bookmark.” (Irish Tatler)

“What a lovely book!” (Daily Mail)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (127 )
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 (47)
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2 star
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 (3)
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4.0 (81 )
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 (28)
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 (27)
3 star
 (23)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (1)
Story
4.3 (83 )
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 (39)
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 (28)
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 (15)
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  •  
    Laura Kansas City, MO, United States 06-30-12
    Laura Kansas City, MO, United States 06-30-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Sweet, Leisurely Stroll, but Ultimately Dull"

    This book had a great deal of promise. But it had too many stories going on at once and none of them got the attention they deserved, so in the end the book was disappointing. The author attempted to roll up all the loose ends but at the end, it felt like everything the woman had gone through in the past year, all of the tension and stress hinted about but always repressed, might as well have not happened. Everything that happened to her seemed predictable and the end result of each event was expected. This was another book where it is immediately and painfully obvious to the reader that a plot line must end in disaster and you want to reach in, slap the heroine and say "Pay Attention! Do us all a favor and dump him now, not 169 pages from now."

    The author did a very good job of describing a community and the way people in it live and interact together. The way she used the store and the newspaper to tell the story of an entire community was inventive. It was obvious she did her research on vintage clothing. The subplot about the dying French woman and her secret was creative, but ultimately not as heartbreaking to read about as I think the author hoped it would be. And it reminded me that soon everyone who suffered directly at the hands of the Nazi's will be gone. And the true evil has almost become a cliche. Maybe the reality of the tragedy will become real again, when it is no longer used as a plot device in contemporary novels.

    The narrator did a great job on the British and French female voices. Her Canadian and American accents were bad. It sounded like she was pronouncing words she spoke perfectly in British English, almost phonetically when she tried to translate them into American and Canadian. She might as well have been going from English to Sanskrit. And she did a poor job on the male characters. But that might be because all of the male characters were totally uninteresting men.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JL San Francisco, CA USA 07-10-12
    JL San Francisco, CA USA 07-10-12 Member Since 2004

    Quiltmaker and librarian who loves writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Book Review: A Vintage Affair"
    Any additional comments?

    Beautifully written, good pacing and a lovely story line. I think this book ended just as it should have. All the main story lines were tied up, but there was still a promise of Phoebe having a future. I didn't feel like I NEEDED a sequel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lulu KANSAS CITY, MO, United States 06-30-12
    Lulu KANSAS CITY, MO, United States 06-30-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    704
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    915
    154
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    217
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Sweet, Leisurely Stroll, but Ultimately Dull"

    This book had a great deal of promise. But it had too many stories going on at once and none of them got the attention they deserved, so in the end the book was disappointing. The author attempted to roll up all the loose ends but at the end, it felt like everything the woman had gone through in the past year, all of the tension and stress hinted about but always repressed, might as well have not happened. Everything that happened to her seemed predictable and the end result of each event was expected. This was another book where it is immediately and painfully obvious to the reader that a plot line must end in disaster and you want to reach in, slap the heroine and say "Pay Attention! Do us all a favor and dump him now, not 169 pages from now."

    The author did a very good job of describing a community and the way people in it live and interact together. The way she used the store and the newspaper to tell the story of an entire community was inventive. It was obvious she did her research on vintage clothing. The subplot about the dying French woman and her secret was creative, but ultimately not as heartbreaking to read about as I think the author hoped it would be. And it reminded me that soon everyone who suffered directly at the hands of the Nazi's will be gone. And the true evil has almost become a cliche. Maybe the reality of the tragedy will become real again, when it is no longer used as a plot device in contemporary novels.

    The narrator did a great job on the British and French female voices. Her Canadian and American accents were bad. It sounded like she was pronouncing words she spoke perfectly in British English, almost phonetically when she tried to translate them into American and Canadian. She might as well have been going from English to Sanskrit. And she did a poor job on the male characters. But that might be because all of the male characters were totally uninteresting men.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 05-20-12
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 05-20-12 Member Since 2010

    12 step program please. I am addicted to Audible! I love trashy sexy books, award winning novels and everything between. Bring it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    167
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    262
    103
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    35
    24
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Vintage is New New"

    I loved this book. I love fashion and very much enjoy that vintage wear was the back drop for this story that was bit mystery, light romance, self discovery, forgiveness and fun. Phoebe Swift is the owner of Vintage Village and it here where the characters meet and their stories begin. Once I started listening to this audio, I had a hard time putting it down. I lost some sleep last night wanting to know how things would end. There are several story threads and I was impressed that they all flowed and made the book richer instead of bogging the reader down with useless story lines. They were all unique but cohesive - sort of like a vintage collection. This book is not fluff, but it's also not terribly deep. Another reviewer said it is somewhere in between. I agree. It is both escapist and thoughtful. There are many situations in this book that are complicated and the author does a great thing by not hitting you over the head with heavy language. In fact there is something joyful in her writing. This is just a very good listen. I highly recommend!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carmen Wasilla, AK, United States 01-14-12
    Carmen Wasilla, AK, United States 01-14-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very Enjoyable"
    What did you like best about this story?

    Good characters, good dialogue and a hint of mystery. Lots of description involving vintage clothing that some may find tedious, but I enjoyed it. At first I thought the aspect of the blue coat had been prematurely resolved, but was surprised to see it carried throughout the ending.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Griffin Mount Horeb, WI, United States 11-05-10
    Griffin Mount Horeb, WI, United States 11-05-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    78
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "Very good!"

    I really enjoyed both the story and the narration. It isn't deep, but very enjoyable and intelligent. Like many stories in this genre, happy endings abound, but this one doesn't overdo it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Old Saybrook, CT, United States 11-04-10
    Deborah Old Saybrook, CT, United States 11-04-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "An Excellent Choice!"

    I just finished this audio book and found it to be just the right amount of many emotions. This book was very well written and the story line was very well thought out. Even now that I am finished, I'm not asking myself if I can recall a segment from the beginning that later tied into the story. I think Violet Mathieson was perfect for the narrative role - she was excellent! I was a little sad when the story ended. Well done Isabel & Violet.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzi San Jose, CA, United States 10-12-10
    Suzi San Jose, CA, United States 10-12-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Great story, very descriptive"

    I had to return the book to the library before I had a chance to read it, so I was thrilled to find the audiobook on Audible. I love vintage fashion, and Isabel Wolff did a great job with the descriptive details. All in all, I'm very satisfied with my purchase!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stone Pullman, WA, United States 09-14-13
    Stone Pullman, WA, United States 09-14-13 Member Since 2001

    Thinking mom

    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    72
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Predictable but entertaining"

    A Vintage Affair is good "fluff". Phoebe Swift leaves her job at a high class auction house to open her own vintage clothing store. She's personable, has great taste in clothing and the business does well. In the process of opening the store, she meets a cast of characters who provide her with a little love, a little drama and a little mystery. I liked the mystery part the best--the romance and drama were somewhat predictable. Overall a good story.

    The part that made me giggle was the narration. It's read, quite well, by a British reader who seems to think that people in California have a mix of a Brooklyn and Bostonian accents. It's only a very small part of the book, but every time she tried it, I erupted into giggles. (Don't let my immaturity stop you, though--it's a good, if light, story.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trish Richmond, CA, United States 01-06-13
    Trish Richmond, CA, United States 01-06-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    115
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mildly interesting"

    I enjoyed this story mainly for the details about vintage clothing. I did not find the heroine particularly admirable, although some of the other characters were interesting.

    The narrator had some difficulty with male voices. Her American accents were terrible. She seemed to think that speakers from California produce wandering /r/ sounds at the ends of words - "Californier"; "idear"; "sor" for "saw" - or add them in the middle, as in "farther" for "father" and "tort" for "taught" - or eliminate final /r/ as in "sista" and "brotha." The reader seemed to be trying so hard, speaking very slowly for accents (as she did with male voices), but there was no accuracy or consistency, so those parts of the narration were quite annoying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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