Book Review: Vintage
By: Susan Gloss
Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Page Count: 320
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Adult - Contemporary, Women's Fiction
I have always had a fondness for vintage items. Looking through antique stories and learning about historical items is a fine way to be pass the time in my opinion. I have never really been into vintage fashion though so I thought reading this novel could show me what I was missing out on. I'm so glad I chose to request Vintage; this novel has a little bit of everything - love, loss, friendship, and amazing clothes.
The novel focuses around three main characters: April, Violet, and Amithi. Each of these women became a symbol for adulthood in my mind. April is eighteen and while she's had to grow up quickly due to her mother's death and an unplanned pregnancy, she is still learning to navigate the currents of adulthood. Violet represents the middle phase of adulthood. She is the owner of a trendy vintage shop in Madison, Wisconsin. Her life is full of some dark moments and she's seeking a path to a happier future. Lastly, Amithi represents the older stage of adulthood. After being a wife and mother for nearly forty years, Amithi finds that her perfect life isn't so perfect. She craves something that is all her own and has the courage to begin living her dreams in spite of her age. In addition to the main three, I also loved the minor characters such as Lane and Sam.
I grew to know all of these women and consider them friends for the time we spent together. These aren't the sort of characters that you forget easily. Each of the women has a difficult relationship to work through, but they find that they learn a lot from one another. I loved how Susan Gloss entwined the stories of these three women and linked each chapter to a vintage item from Violet's shop. Each of the vintage pieces, like these women, has a story to tell.
I loved spending my time with the Hourglass Vintage ladies. Part of me would love to see this morph into a series, but another part of me is happy with the way things ended for each of the characters. In addition, I now have a desire to visit Madison, Wisconsin - that is something I never thought I'd say. The town seems interesting and eclectic based on Gloss' portrayal of it.
All in all, I enjoyed this read, but it was a slow starter. If you're a fan of contemporary chick lit, I'd strongly suggest giving this one a try. It isn't light and fluffy chick lit - there is a lot of depth to the characters and the plot has some serious topics - which I appreciated. There is a time and place for light and fluffy, but I love finding chick lit with a bit more substance. This one also made me reminiscent of the friendships and strong women from the movie, Steel Magnolias. This novel and the film share little in common outside of the aforementioned elements, but I loved seeing the friendships in both develop. Everyone needs friends like April, Violet, and Amithi.
One Last Gripe: I was so angry with some of the choices made by male characters in this one.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved that Gloss used a vintage item to introduce every chapter. I had fun making predictions about how the item would be important to the story.
First Sentence: Beneath the ash trees on Johnson Street, just east of campus, Hourglass Vintage stood in a weathered brick building, wedged between a fair-trade coffee shop and a bike-repair business.
Favorite Character: Violet
Least Favorite Character: Naveen
A sparkling debut novel in the vein of The Friday Night Knitting Club, centered around a Midwestern vintage clothing shop and a group of women who eventually transform the store and each others' lives.
At Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, every item in the boutique has a story to tell . . . and so do the women who are drawn there.
Yellow Samsonite suitcase with ivory, quilted lining, 1950s... Violet Turner had always dreamed of owning a shop like Hourglass Vintage. Though she knows the personal history behind each precious item she sells, Violet refuses to acknowledge her own past. When she is faced with the possibility of losing the store, she realizes that, as much as she wants to, she cannot save it alone.
Taffeta tea length wedding gown with scooped neckline and cap sleeves, 1952... Eighteen-year-old April Morgan is nearly five months along in an unplanned pregnancy when her hasty engagement is broken. When she returns the perfect 1950s wedding dress, she discovers unexpected possibilities and friends who won't let her give up on her dreams.
Orange sari made from silk dupioni with gold paisley design, 1968... Betrayed by her husband, Amithi Singh begins selling off her old clothes, remnants of her past life. After decades of housekeeping and parenting a daughter who rejects her traditional ways, she fears she has nothing more ahead for her.