Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vintage by Susan Gloss

The BookOur August book club title was a contemporary first novel by a Wisconsin author.  Set in Madison, just a few streets from the university, VINTAGE tells the story of three women.  Violet loves Hourglass Vintage, the shop she has worked so hard to establish; she especially likes her unique customers and the personal quests that bring them into her shop. Even so, she finds herself telling the young distressed woman who wants to return a wedding dress that she does not accept returns on such items.  The firm refusal leaves Violet slightly unsettled and only a few days later Violet finds her life intersecting when the young woman is placed on a summer work internship at Violet's shop.  All the details have been orchestrated by a shop customer and philanthropist friend of Violet's.  It seems that pregnant, 18 year old April, needs not only a job, but some stability in her life, having been left at the alter by her college-aged boyfriend only months after her mother died in an accident.  Soon Violet finds her life even more complicated as she is told that her rent-to-own lease will end within weeks unless she can deliver a full purchase payment.  The story is given more depth and flavor by the inclusion of a third woman's story -- that of Amithi Singh who begins to bring in beautiful Indian saris and scarves to sell at the shop.  Little by little readers will learn the woman's story of betrayal.  

Being an older reader, I appreciate books that interweave multiple ages.  April's story of young love and disappointment has all the emotion you would expect such a story to have.  Violet's story is more complex; she has worked hard to get where she is and doesn't want to lose it.  Both the eviction notice and an ex-husband threaten her future success.  A chance at new love brings its own road traps.  And the older Amithi shows that heartache at hit at any age and in any culture.  I loved that each chapter began with a  description of a vintage item, part of Hourglass's inventory, followed by a brief description of how it was acquired.  I found myself visualizing each item and also picturing the quaint shop.  When I found out that author Susan Gloss actually had a vintage online business, I began searching for it online, and also searched to see if Madison had any independent vintage stores that may have been models for the book.  Sadly, I did not find a State street vintage store!  Anybody want to start one??

The consensus of our book club was that this was a fun read for the summer.  A kind of chick lit for multiple audiences.  I found a few things got too much emphasis and a few other things rushed to abrupt endings, but overall I liked her writing.  I hope that Gloss continues to write, but it appears she is the mother of a toddler, a practicing attorney, and part of that vintage online business.  Does that mean she won't have time to write?  I hope not.  Let's hope she is an overachiever and can juggle all her jobs.  We need good authors who can continue to write Wisconsin stories.

Our book club almost always obtains our books through interlibrary loan, so getting a copy of this book should not be difficult.  I actually listened to the first half of the book and then finished by reading the hard copy.  I got the audio version through WPLC (Wisconsin Public Library Consortium).  I like listening to this type of fiction; the narration gives the people and setting a realistic vibe.  


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