A Vintage Affair

  • by Isabel Wolff
  • Narrated by Violet Mathieson
  • 12 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Laura

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!
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- Mon

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-07-2010
  • Publisher: Random House Audio