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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

Critic Reviews

“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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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mon
  • San Francisco, Ca
  • 05-20-12

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • JL
  • San Francisco, CA USA
  • 07-10-12

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

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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

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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

  • Overall
  • Griffin
  • Mount Horeb, WI, United States
  • 11-05-10

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

  • Overall
  • Deborah
  • Old Saybrook, CT, United States
  • 11-04-10

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

  • Overall
  • Suzi
  • San Jose, CA, United States
  • 10-12-10

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

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a wonderful read

what a great read! a bit of everything, mystery, clothes, romance..and of course a happy ending. what's not to love?

Audible 20 Review Sweepstakes Entry

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  • Susanne
  • Elkins Park, PA, United States
  • 11-11-15

Light and Easy for Dreary Fall Days

What did you love best about A Vintage Affair?

I loved the intertwined romance and historical stories. I also loved that the romance thread of the novel was not ridiculous in the way that a lot of "chick lit" can be. Sophie was still quite respectable.

What did you like best about this story?

I really liked the details woven in about vintage clothing. There are quite a few lessons in there if you're listening! I felt that the author really did her homework when she included all those tidbits about clothing through the ages.

What about Violet Mathieson’s performance did you like?

Her voice was quite lovely with good intonation and inflection. She did a convincing male voice as well.

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  • Barb
  • Pullman, WA, United States
  • 09-14-13

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.)