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Book Review - ‘Vintage’

The sweater is like an old friend.

Once upon a time, it was your mother’s favorite garment. Back then, it was sophisticated and elegant, with beads and bangles that must’ve made her feel terribly chic.

Today, it’s a little beat-up. It’s missing beads, is worn on one elbow, and it’s as far from haute couture as you can get, but you really don’t care. Wearing it makes you feel warm, inside and out and, as you’ll see in “Vintage” by Susan Gloss, new friends can give you that same feeling.

Ever since Violet Turner got divorced, left her small northern Wisconsin hometown and moved to Madison, life was almost exactly what she’d envisioned.

Hourglass Vintage, the clothing boutique Violet owned, fulfilled her dream of a career in fashion, which was something she wanted practically her whole life. She loved her business and her customers — but as for the dream of raising a family, well, at 38 and divorced, Violet figured that dream was dead.

April Morgan would never wear the 1950s-era wedding dress she got from Hourglass Vintage. For one thing, at five months’ pregnant, she’d never fit into it.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. She and Charlie were in love, but his parents didn’t approve of an 18-year-old whose mother had been mentally ill. They wanted their only son to marry a society girl, and they’d withheld funds for Charlie’s medical school until he came to his senses. That kind of stress wasn’t good when you were just starting out, and an unplanned baby didn’t help. Charlie couldn’t take the pressure, and now April was alone.

Amithi Singh’s daughter didn’t want her mother’s colorful saris — Jayana didn’t want anything to do with tradition — so Amithi brought the clothes to Hourglass Vintage. She wasn’t sure why she’d kept the saris in the first place, but it was time to get rid of them, just like she’d get rid of her cheating husband.

Forty years ago, when her arranged marriage was new, Amithi put aside her hopes and followed her husband to America. So much had happened since then. Could she again change her life as easily as she changed her wardrobe?

You know that “ahhhhhh” feeling you get when you come home and slip into your favorite around-the-house clothes? Yep, that’s the kind of comfort you get when you slip into “Vintage.”

Starting each chapter with a clothing description to set the tone, author Susan Gloss tells a story of friendship, dream-keeping and great outfits. It’s a cute tale with likeable-enough characters and it’s light on the drama— but here’s where I think the appeal of this novel lies: it’s as familiar as an old sweater, in a good way. Reading it is like wrapping yourself in coziness — and isn’t that why you love novels like this?

I think if you’re tired of heavy drama, screaming plots and unbelievable characters, this book is the perfect antidote. Grab your sweater, grab a chair and grab “Vintage.” You might fid that it’s just your style.

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“Vintage” by Susan Gloss

c.2014, Wm. Morrow $25.99 / $31.99 Canada 310 pages

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