Vintage, by Susan Gloss, is a perfect read for anyone who wears clothes. That would be all of us. Why, you ask? Because it reminds us to enjoy how we dress ourselves everyday, and how each of those pieces of clothing is a clue about who we are and how we feel. Spending time in a university town these past 6 months has been a breath of fresh air for me. It reminded me that people are imaginative, eclectic, and artistic. And most importantly, that I don't have to be matchy-matchy in what I wear. I do, however, draw the line at wearing yoga pants and, more horribly, pajama bottoms to class. That is just not okay.
Violet owns Hourglass Vintage, a lovely store located in Madison, Wisconsin. She sells vintage clothing, and works long hours to fulfill her dream. In her late 30's, she's divorced and lives alone. Married young to her high school sweetheart, it took her years to realize her life wasn't what she wanted it to be, and she was living it for others. Leaving her drunk husband and her small town, she moved to Madison and through a lot of hard work, became a success.
Enter April. She's 18, barely out of high school, and pregnant. She lives a few blocks down the street from Violet's store, and she's alone after the death of her mother. Through a mutual acquaintance, April begins an internship at Violet's store, and their friendship begins. Two other customers--Amithi and Lane soon become friends and we learn about their stories and what's brought them into the store to sell their clothing to Violet.
This is a fast read but an enjoyable one. It's about friendship, leaving your past behind, and creating a new life. It's about letting go and accepting that some things just don't work and that's okay. And the clothes! I'm the last person you could say was a fashionista. My clothing taste is nil. But, reading the descriptions of the vintage clothing in Violet's shop--well, it makes me want to own something pretty and happy and female. All things I've ignored for years. If anything, this novel has made me want to make an effort in my everyday appearance, and appreciate a well-made piece of clothing. I won't be so quick to shop the "cheap" stores because I don't have much time, and I don't really care what I wear. It is true that wearing something flattering and pretty makes you feel wonderful. I'd like to have that feeling again. And it will help me get through the remaining weeks of my school semester while I run around frantically researching and furiously writing my papers. Looking fabulous of course, sweeties!
Rating: 7/10; a visit to a vintage clothing store is always inspiring, and April's journey is the heart of this novel.
Available in hardcover, audio, and e-book.