Published by William Morrow
Publication date: March 25th 2014
Hourglass Vintage is a charming used clothing shop in Madison, Wisconsin. It is also where three women at very different stages of life meet in Vintage, the debut novel from author Susan Gloss. Violet is the owner, Amithi is a middle-aged Indian woman, who brings in much of her jewelry and clothes to sell, and April is a pregnant eighteen-year-old who thought she would be marrying her wealthy college boyfriend but whose family put a stop to their wedding. In one small store, these three women come together and forge a novel of humor, insight and strength.
As in any great piece of clothing, it is the details that make Vintage so enjoyable. Each chapter begins with a description of an item in the shop and its history. Gloss is no stranger to fashion and it shows in her descriptions of a Schiaparelli pant suits, a Dior evening gown, or an Hermes bag. This is the fun in Vintage but the novel’s strength lies in the fact that while it is about the distinctly feminine subject of clothes it is not centered on getting a man or keeping a man. Violet has left a drunk of a husband who spent her tuition money at a strip bar and now owns the store she’s dreamed of since high school. April forges ahead with her plans to have her baby and attend college and Amithi does not crumple over her husband’s infidelity but instead rises up in anger.
How dare he long for something he himself ruined? What selfishness to feel sorry for himself when he’d hurt her so deeply!
Each of the women has her own battles and Gloss uses these to bond them together. Violet is being threatened with the loss of her shop, Amithi is a talented seamstress and helps out with alterations while exploring options for life on her own and April is a math and computer whiz, who takes Violet’s muddled books and organizes them. With a thoughtful approach Gloss makes each recognizable to all.
Vintage is the perfect book to get one through these dog days of heat and lethargy before summer slinks away. It is one of those happy-making novels in that while there are struggles and emotional journeys, it still wraps up as neatly and satisfyingly as finding a dress you love…in a size smaller than you normally wear…on sale. It doesn’t get much better than that.
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