A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

7749667This book was highly rated on GoodReads when searching for Chick Lit set in England and now I know why. In addition to being a great story, I loved the realism of the locations and neighborhoods. Having just come back from London, I loved being transported back there, wishing there really was a vintage clothing shop in Blackheath that I could stroll past, even if I couldn’t afford to buy anything.

On the surface, it’s the story of Phoebe Swift, owner of the newly opened Vintage Village clothing shop. Her best friend had recently died and she’s still a mess about it, thinking that it was all her fault. She ended her engagement, quit her job and started out on this new venture. I’m not a huge vintage clothing fan, but this book was definitely made me want to find my local shop here and go nuts.

But as great a businesswoman as Phoebe is, she’s not so great with relationships as she recovers from her friend’s passing. She puts up with a lot more than I would have from the guy she starts dating, but if she dumped him straight off, the ending wouldn’t be as sweet. The ending was telegraphed from the beginning, but I didn’t mind because it always makes me wonder if my “ending” has been telegraphed to others and I just can’t see while I’m in the middle of it.

The best/worst part of the story has nothing to do with clothes or men, but Phoebe’s relationship with a dying woman who sells her clothes to Phoebe for the shop. The story of the blue coat and Phoebe’s exploration of the rest of the story just got to me. Even if it didn’t have to do with the Holocaust (spoiler alert: it does), the themes of guilt, responsibility and learning to let go were so well-done, especially as Phoebe comes to terms with what really happened to Emma. My only quibble was her ex’s appearance at the end for the sole purpose of what seemed to be making sure Phoebe knew he wasn’t really to blame for what happened to Emma.

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