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A Vintage Affair: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – April 5, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When vintage clothing expert Phoebe Swift decides to abandon her career as a Sotheby’s auctioneer, she opens London’s Village Vintage, selling only the best recycled designer duds. However, it isn’t long before we discover that the cupcake dresses and alligator clutches that populate her quaint neighborhood shop aren’t Phoebe’s only baggage. Reeling from the death of a close friend and the subsequent collapse of her wedding engagement, Phoebe is in need of a change. She certainly loves the clothing she sells for its history, but it takes a new and profound friendship with the elderly client Mrs. Bell to show Phoebe to care for herself in the same way. Although the novel is sometimes predictable, UK best-seller Wolff keeps us entertained by sending a few courtiers Phoebe’s way and threading intriguing wartime historical fiction into Mrs. Bell’s backstory. Readers with a passion for couture fashion will appreciate (and feel vindicated by!) Wolff’s well-researched and intricate descriptions of beautiful, significant vintage pieces. While the dialogue is occasionally a bit bloated, this book is a smooth read with enough flair and fun for the beach or the pool. --Annie Bostrom --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A captivating story about the power of friendship . . . More than a novel, it is a recipe for happiness.”Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author of Juliet

“Romantic and sumptuous, this is a must for fans of vintage dresses and vintage romance.”—Hester Browne, author of The Little Lady Agency
“This colorful new novel has something for everyone. There is mystery, romance, great characters, as well as London and France.”—Naples Daily News
“Deftly blends past and present, romance and mystery, and a theme of forgiveness and redemption.”Mary Kincaid, The Huffington Post

Product Details

  • Series: Random House Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055338662X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553386622
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Isabel Wolff studied English Literature at Cambridge and was a journalist and BBC broadcaster before becoming a full time writer. A Sunday Times best-seller, her ten poignant novels have been published in 29 languages and include 'Making Minty Malone', 'Behaving Badly' 'Out of the Blue' and 'Rescuing Rose'. 'A Vintage Affair' was an Amazon.co.uk 'Best of the Year' title, 2009, and in 2011 was shortlisted for the American Libraries Association Reading List award. 'The Very Picture of You' was published by Random House Inc in 2011 and they will publish her latest novel, 'Shadows Over Paradise' (published in the UK as 'Ghostwritten') in February 2015. Isabel lives in London's Notting Hill with her partner, Greg, their children, her younger stepson and the family's black cocker spaniel. For more information please visit www.IsabelWolff.com, go to 'Isabel Wolff, Author' on Facebook, or follow @IsabelWolff on Twitter. Thank you...

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Most of the other reviews have gone over the plot of this charming book, so I won't belabor that. What I will do is tell you that I absolutely LOVED A Vintage Affair and didn't put it down until I finished it in one day. Now, for me, that is NOT just chick lit. This book has a wonderful main character, Phoebe Swift, who narrates the story and captured my heart early on, in the Prologue. She's definitely not perfect, and we feel her confusion, her disappointment, and most of all, her regrets. But she's also filled with passion and enthusiasm and hope, and we, the readers, are taken along for the ride. Phoebe is not afraid to risk in love or in business, but she is unable to get beyond regrets about what she sees as her own failings. There's also a bittersweet story of World War II friendship and tragedy that parallels in many ways a complex friendship in Phoebe's own immediate past. Both stories of betrayal and friendship touched me deeply, and I have to admit that tears were flowing freely as I read.

What makes this book a can't-put-it-down page-turner is the fact that mystery lurks around every corner, as does coincidence (or fate?), and this combination, while it may strain credulity at times, also keeps the reader guessing and hoping, right along with Phoebe. In addition to mystery, there's romance that includes just about all the various shades of romantic entanglements, including lost love, found love with complications, and budding romance with great potential. Somehow the author manages to keep it believable enough that the reader is swept along with the story, unable to put the book down or forget about what's going to happen next.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wish I could give this book 6 stars because 5 doesn't seem like enough. I'm not going to bore you with another recap of the plot in this review but I will say this about it: it's the first book I've read in a long time where the plot unfolded for me as a surprise rather than an expectation. I loved every second of reading this book because the author did such a great job of not giving away too much at once. Phoebe, the main character is incredibly charming and likable. All the characters in the book are so well written that by the time you turn the last page you can't help but feel a connection with all of them. The descriptions of the garments are described in such a way that you have no trouble seeing in your mind what they look like. Don't pass this book by if you're not into vintage clothing or couture because there's so much more here than that. This book will make you laugh and cry but most of all it will make you glad to have read it. I will definitely seek out other books written by this author!
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Format: Paperback
I love fashion so when I read the summary I knew I must read this book so I was really excited when I won. It was a light romantic novel with some heavier stories told within the main plot of the book.

Phoebe Swift's love for all things vintage leads to her opening her own shop, Village Vintage. She meets many different and unique people with many wonderful stories. One of these people is Mrs. Therese Bell who grew up during the war in the 1940's. She tells her story of growing up during the war and the person she felt she betrayed and has kept a part of it, the beautiful blue coat, to herself all these years. Which is something Phoebe could relate to all to well.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The descriptions of the vintage clothing was wonderfully detailed, I could picture every outfit perfectly. I enjoyed the story of Mrs. Bell somewhat more than I did the main storyline with Phoebe, but Phoebe's was just as interesting to read about.

There were so many characters each with their own individual personalities. Phoebe's two or well three, I suppose, love interests Miles the older man with the snobbish daughter, Dan a sweet and quirky journalist/ film aficionado, and of course the ex-fiance she left behind. One of my favorite characters was her mother who was obsessed with wanting to stay young and learning about all these different procedures she was thinking of doing. I enjoyed all of the characters even the not so nice ones.

A Vintage Affair was a really fun and at times sad book to read. It makes me want to open up my own vintage shop in hopes of meeting a wonderful person like Mrs. Bell and being surrounded by all the beautiful clothing.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Rating: three and a half stars

Your heart misses a beat; your stomach flutters, your eyes lit up, feasting on every detail. You say to yourself how beautiful it is. There in your hands is the perfect dress albeit it was made 60 years ago. Other people only see an old dress but for you is a unique find, one to be treasured. In her book, "A Vintage Affair," Isabel Wolff captures this feeling for vintage clothing at every level, from the person who casually picks up a 1950s purse because it tickles her fancy, to the hard-core collector, to the connoisseur. Weaved with the designer brands, famous fashion designer names, clothing styles, shopping and care tips are the stories of Phoebe Swift, who after 12 years as an auctioneer at Sotheby's and after the recent tragic loss of her best friend, opens her own vintage clothing shop, and those of her customers.

Phoebe's store, "Village Vintage," becomes the crossroads in the lives of the characters of "A Vintage Affair". As Phoebe gives, as she puts it, a new lease in life to the fabulous 40-, 50- or 60-year-old gowns, dresses, and coats; they in turn, enable their new owners a fresh start in their own lives. It's not only the buyers who are touched by the vintage outfits but also those who part with them as in the case of Therese Bell, a 79-year-old cancer patient whose greatest regret in life mirrors Phoebe's.

As somebody who loves vintage jewelry, I can attest that everything Phoebe said about why she likes vintage is true. Whether it is clothes or jewelry, those who love vintage wear them for their uniqueness, marvel at their craftsmanship and design, wonder at their history, and are driven to save them from destruction. For the most part, I enjoyed "A Vintage Affair.
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