Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann
Touchstone - Fiction/Historical-contemporary mix
396 pp., incl. black and white photos
When Amanda Rosenbloom goes to a dying elderly lady's home to purchase the woman's vintage clothing for her store, Astor Place Vintage, she is surprised to find a journal hidden in a fur muff. Amanda sneaks the journal into her purse and as she reads, discovers the surprising life of Olive Westcott. Olive moved to Manhattan in 1907 to pursue a career as a store buyer. But, gaining experience and reaching a goal as a single woman was not so simple 100 years ago.
As she reads Olive's story, Amanda can't help but find connections between herself and Olive. Will the journal of a long-dead woman help Amanda break away from an unhealthy relationship after years of relying upon her married boyfriend's money to keep her store afloat? If so, how will she survive without his help?
I had a terrible time getting into Astor Place Vintage but sometimes when a book is not clicking for me I'll go read reviews to see if there's something I'm missing. In this case, it was Jennifer's review of Astor Place Vintage that helped me to look at the story from a different perspective. I returned to the book and enjoyed it. In fact, the end was so very satisfying I'm relieved that she stopped me from giving up. Typically, I quickly became tired of the leaps back and forth from one character to the other and found them confusing until Jennifer noted some aspects of the historical character's life that helped me to untangle them.
What I particularly loved about Astor Place Vintage was the peek into life as a single, working woman who knows what she wants but has huge challenges barring her way. And, as Jennifer noted, it was very interesting seeing what it was like just to be a woman, in general, during that time period.
Recommended - While Astor Place Vintage is not a personal favorite, partly because I'm quite weary of books that alternate between two lives every other chapter -- and I did find that I preferred the historical storyline -- Astor Place Vintage is a very good story that was extremely satisfying, in the end. There are black and white photos of Manhattan in Olive's time period interspersed throughout the book. I love old photos and they added nicely to the story as they spotlight areas of significance which are helpful for visualizing Olive's world.
My thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing the review copy and to Jennifer for saving me from ditching a book that turned out to be a very good read.
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