by Isabel Wolff
Let me begin by telling you that I haven't read anything by Ms. Wolff in a long time. The Trials of Tiffany Trott and The Making of Minty Malone were published during the height of the chick lit trend, and I haven't read anything by her since then.
So, I began reading A Vintage Affair with the hope that it was toned down chick lit. Wrong!
Phoebe Swift has left a swell career at Sotheby's to open her own vintage clothing shop. She loves clothing with a history and even considers herself a sartorial archaeologist.
Then she meets Therese Bell, an older woman who would like to sell some of her clothing to Phoebe's shop. While visiting Mrs. Bell, Phoebe learns the history of some of her outfits, including the tragic tale of the blue coat.
Meanwhile, Phoebe has just broken off an engagement and has two appealing (yet vastly different) suitors pursuing her.
Additionally, Phoeve is coping with the recent death of a dear friend, Emma. The circumstances of her death are slowly revealed to the reader.
So, Phoebe has three major storylines in this one novel. Two might have been okay--the vintage clothing and the romance or the vintage clothing and the death of a friend. But all three plots are too much for this sort of novel.
I will say this: I love the descriptions of the vintage clothing. Wolff does vintage fashion much better than Erin McKean does in The Secret Lives of Dresses. And, I like Phoebe Swift. She is an interesting and sympathetic protagonist. But the cluttered and numerous plots weigh down this novel.
Recommended for fashionistas (vintage) with patience.