Vintage by Susan Gloss is set in Madison, Wisconsin and stars Violet Turner, struggling proprietor of Hourglass Vintage. From this book I confirmed that while the stories behind other people’s clothing are often fascinating, I would never, never, never want to own a such a shop. As far as living in Madison, probably not for me either, but the book doesn’t give a full enough picture to totally rule it out – planning a move has this consideration top of mind.
I found this story to be exactly what I expected from the cover. This is a quick, lite read for plane or train travel.
Violet Turner is 38-years-old and more interested in preserving other people’s history than her own. Divorced and finally running her dream vintage business on a busy street in Madison, she has good friends and work she loves. Life’s not perfect – her plan to be a mom seems less likely with every year plus she’s single and money is tight – but life’s not bad either. Not until she’s served an eviction notice. Now she has to come up with the million dollars to buy her building or face higher rents in lesser locations.
For her, vintage items also represented other lives, other choices, and drew the focus away from her now.
At this early point I was a happy enough reader – not blown away but glad to know where I was and where the story was going. I expected a clever stream of Violet’s cockamamy scheming to come up with the funds. Then a short parade of minor characters enters the picture and the focus shifts to juggle them and what I thought were duller stories.
Though Violet’s not in a position to do any hiring, a friend convinces her to take on an intern. April is a pregnant 18-year-old math wiz trying to hold onto a scholarship while grieving for her late mother and broken relationship. Then in comes a man who gives Violet a rush she hasn’t felt since long before her divorce. [Insert some love stuff and female bonding] … This one summer is an emotional time of growth and rebirth for Violet and April, which makes me want to yawn just thinking about. The slightly more interesting umbrella covers friends coming together during hard times, good times and refusing to settle.
Though Violet is the same kind of rockabilly-styled character you meet in trendy neighborhoods everywhere, I appreciated that she knows what she wants and goes for it. Had the story kept a tight focus on her, peppered with vintage ephemera and odd slices of life anecdotes it would’ve added up to an engaging book. It didn’t though and I lost interest once the other characters came on board.
The vintage world lends itself to storytelling. I was curious to see if Gloss would do something new with the notion that every object has a story to tell, but that didn’t happen either. I always struggle when I don’t like a women’s fiction book because it feels like betraying the team. I think I’m the target audience for this book, but it fell flat for me.
It did remind me why I loved Glaciers by Alexis Smith. I still can’t recommend this book enough.