“At Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, every item in the boutique has a story to tell . . . and so do the women whose lives the store touches.
Yellow Samsonite suitcase with ivory, quilted lining, 1950s
A small-town girl with a flair for fashion, Violet Turner had always dreamed of owning a shop like Hourglass Vintage. But while she values the personal history behind each beautiful item she sells, Violet is running from her own past. Faced with the possibility of losing the store to an unscrupulous developer, she realizes that despite her usual self-reliance she cannot save it alone.
Taffeta tea-length wedding gown with scooped neckline and cap sleeves, 1952
Eighteen-year-old April Morgan is nearly five months along in an unplanned pregnancy when her hasty engagement is broken. When she returns the perfect vintage wedding dress to Violet’s shop, she discovers a world of new possibilities, and an unexpected sisterhood with women who won’t let her give up on her dreams.
Orange silk sari with gold paisley design, 1968
Betrayed by her husband, Amithi Singh begins selling off her vibrant Indian dresses, remnants of a life she’s determined to leave behind her. After decades of housekeeping and parenting a daughter who rejects her traditional ways, she fears her best days are behind her . . . until she discovers an outlet for her creativity and skills with a needle and thread.”
Thoughts: Yes, Madison really is as wacky as Ms. Gloss describes. It is a city that does not just accept all walks of life but embraces them and celebrates their quirks. From the near-constant political rallies near campus to the street performers and eclectic retail stores along State Street to the more professional end of Capital Square, it really does have it all. Ms. Gloss perfectly captures its funky vibe, its revelry of all things not mainstream, and its total acceptance.
Unfortunately, I realized while reading Vintage that this type of story is just not for me. Not only does it not quite live up to its setting’s charming standards, the whole story is just too sweet. It is not quite edgy enough, and even the tattoos Violet gets seem a bit too mainstream and normal for Madison. The women’s stories resolve themselves in a few short sentences, and the whole thing has an air of clichéd predictability about it.
I personally do not care for this type of saccharine sugariness. I need damaged souls. I need dark places. At the very least, I need sarcasm to help cleanse the palate. Vintage has none of that. There is no air of danger, violence, or even irony to offset the fairy tale ending. Fairy tales without the element of danger are just not interesting to me, and Vintage has all of the elements of a fairy tale without any life-threatening drama.
For readers who like this form of women’s literature, Vintage is a cute story. The three main heroines are enjoyable as they discover their inner strengths and learn to live their dreams. Its Madison backdrop is a fitting addition to Violet’s story and her friendship with April and Amithi. Unfortunately, Vintage is just not the type of novel I personally enjoy.