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Yes it’s Wednesday, and I’m skipping my Wordless Wednesday post (even though I have several fabulous doors to share!) because I told myself I wouldn’t participate unless I had shared a review since my last WW. So here I am; writing about vintage clothing instead of sharing some vintage doorways.
Last week while delayed in yet another airport, I went on a little Kindle buying spree (for conservative spenders, it’s really convenient that Kindle doesn’t give you a combined order total but charges for every title) and among the new Larsson, Evanovich and Roberts, I discovered a jewel in THE VINTAGE AFFAIR by the charming Brit, Isabel Wolff.
While this novel has stories of romance, the protagonist Phoebe is an independent woman, who opens a vintage clothing store in London.
A warning to all you with a propensity to shop: be careful upon finishing this book! I happened to be in Newport, RI for a gorgeous wedding last weekend and found myself spending hours in the vintage store, determined to find the dress that spoke to me, as deliciously described by Wolff. Unfortunately (fortunately for my wallet) I found no such dress, but I will keep looking.
Beyond the gorgeously described vintage threads, there is a story of two female friendships woven throughout. One is that of Phoebe and her late best friend, Emma, and the other is through a connection discovered with an ill, elderly woman who lived during WWII. The emphasis on the novel is strongly in the friendship camp, although there is a bit of romance (or discussion of the lack there of) in Phoebe’s dating life and the recent demise of her parent’s marriage.
This book isn’t life changing, though it definitely offers more depth than traditional chick lit. It will make you think about some of your personal regrets you’ve been carrying with you, and may offer some insight on how to let it go. Perfect read for a trip, especially if you’re escaping to a charming countryside with many vintage offerings!
Which jacket do you prefer? UK or US?
I was recently visiting the wonderful blog Whimpulsive (such a neat word – wish I had thought of it!) when I was utterly inspired to hop on the weekly post called “Wordless Wednesday.” SuziQ’s photo that convinced me to play can be found here (wine tasting yes please). But because I like themes, I am going to dedicate my weekly Wednesday post to doors.
Doors you ask? Don’t ask me why, but I have a thing for doors. I’m a walker, and I consistently find myself pointing out intriguing/cool/classy/gorgeous/gothic/hideous doors to my walking companion, who no matter it is, doesn’t seem to share my interest. But come on, people, imagine the lives behind each and every door! So my goal is to (hopefully not creepily) photograph the doors I walk by and enjoy.
Let’s begin here:
How cool are those carvings on either side?! And I only wish my shoddy iPhone camera could capture the veins trailing up the entire brownstone. Gorgeous.
Hmmm is it still “Wordless Wednesday” if I write about it? This weekly post reminds me of the “White Russian Wednesdays” we used to celebrate in college. Not quite the same. Maybe I’ll find a door that reminds me of kahlua at some point.
I like to think I’m not a superficial book buyer or reader (I trust you fellow bloggers to tell me about books!), but if I were to buy a book for its cover, I definitely would choose 31 BOND STREET.
Beyond the jacket, the cover language of: “A Novel of Murder, Innocence and Power in New York City” is very compelling. Additionally (like I need another reason), I walk by Bond Street at least once a day, as it’s located between my current apartment in the East Village and just about every other place I go.
Though the house of the “society dentist” in this novel no longer stands, the intersection of Bond Street and Bowery is still a hive of activity, with pedestrians walking and cabs honking all day and well into the night. Though in this novel, the setting of 31 BOND STREET was in many ways a simpler time of horse-drawn carriages, though the simple times didn’t stop evil from rooting.
Based around a murder that stole the newspaper headlines back in 1857, this novel introduces us to the widowed Emma Cunningham, struggling financially while trying to hold her place in society and raise her two daughters (less raising them than trying to rope good husbands). When a summer trip to Saratoga (which sounded like an old-fashioned Hamptons!) introduces Emma to wealthy dentist Harvey Burdell, she thinks her future is accounted for.
Upon moving in to Harvey’s brownstone at (you guessed it) 31 Bond Street, Emma awaits the marriage proposal she thinks is imminent. The short time in this abode, she alienates the servants while making the location more pleasant for her daughter’s suitors. It doesn’t take long for her to realize that while she’s sleeping with Harvey, she may not be next in line to be Mrs. Burdell.
Then Harvey is found brutally murdered, his head almost detached from his neck. With no witnesses, Emma is quickly the only suspect.
Filled with power, corruption and greed, this novel has many strands of historical significance weaving through. From the “good” lawyers to political corruption to issues of slavery and power, it is not only a courtroom drama but a colorful fictional look at a different time.
Beyond the rough-edged paper, my other favorite unique aspect of this book were the fictional clips from The New York Times, which did a wonderful job setting the scene and lending a feeling of legitimacy to the time and place.
While I enjoyed the historical imagery, throughout the book I was disappointed by the lack of emotion felt by all characters. Not once does Emma seem to consider falling in love with Harvey (or anyone else), nor does she seem to have many maternal affections toward her daughters beyond finding them a suitable husband. I found the most feelings to be from the lawyer who seems to accept Emma’s case rather spontaneously and accept the loss of position with a prestigious law firm. I also enjoyed the young character John. Beyond those, I was surprised by how unemotional the book felt, when murder trials typically incite very passionate responses.
This is a wonderful book for readers who appreciate historical details and a setting painted with a talented hand. It really did take me back to a different time period. If you enjoyed Jed Rubenfeld’s THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER you should definitely pick up 31 BOND STREET.
Thank you to TLC Book Blog Tour for planning this tour! Hop over and visit the rest of the tour stops here.
My out of office is officially enabled, letting everyone who emails me know that I will not be returning until MONDAY, JULY 12th!!!!!
Off to the Hamptons for a long, idyllic 4th of July weekend before heading home to MI to my childhood home for the LAST TIME! I don’t know if I’ve shared with everyone, but my parents are packing up our home of 25+ years and heading South – all the way to MISSISSIPPI! Yes, of all the places in the world to relocate to, it wouldn’t have been my first pick either (hello, San Diego!?), but I’m very excited about the opportunity for my family and look forward to a warm Christmas. I’ve never been to MS, so if anyone has any reading suggestions I’d love to hear them! Of course I’ve read THE HELP and plan to reread again before my first trek down there, but would appreciate additional suggestions.
Then on to Chicago, for the wedding of a college friend. I’m at that age where everyone seems to be settling down, which is both exciting and rather scary!
No worries on reading materials; my Kindle is uploaded with lots of good stuff like the upcoming BODY WORK by Sara Paretsky, GARDEN SPELLS that was suggested by many of you (thanks, Lisa!), THE GOOD WIFE, and also two physical books I’m in the midst of enjoying: IF YOU KNEW SUZY and the upcoming book of the fall from Kensington Books, FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE.
I look forward to enlightening you all on my “vacation” (though I intend to take a tropical one in the real future that involves more umbrella drinks and less packing) readings. I wish you all a happy 4th!!