One of the things I love best about, well, pretty much anything vintage is because it has a soul. Each item has a story, a past, a history. And one of my favorite things to do is to imagine that past. Oh the tales I weave! Vintage tablecloths, cookware and teacups tell me stories of the families gathered around the table savoring a wonderful meal cooked with love – perhaps a birthday or a Sunday afternoon dinner. Embroidered linens evoke pictures of young brides working hard on their needlecraft so they can fill their new homes with beauty. And clothing – oh clothing! The images they create in my mind… first dates and dances; holidays and parties; walks in the park and church on Sundays, followed by a large family meal. Furniture can also tell its story, as I try to picture where it once lived and how the rest of the room was decorated. How fun it is and deeply satisfying to give all these things a new life and to appreciate them once again.
And that is exactly what I loved about Astor Place Vintage, a novel by Stephanie Lehmann. Not only does she show you that vintage items do indeed have a past, but she brings you there! When I was asked to review this book by Simon and Schuster, it didn’t take me more than a second to say “yes”. I couldn’t wait!
The story starts in more present time, 2007 to be exact, where you meet Amanda, the owner of a vintage clothing shop in New York City named, appropriately, Astor Place Vintage. She is appraising an elderly wealthy woman’s clothing for possible purchase for her shop when she discovers a journal from 1907 sewed into the lining of an antique fur muff. The journal’s author, Olive Wescott, lived in Manhattan 100 years earlier, and as you travel back and forth in time from Amanda’s world to Olive’s world, you will find yourself not only intrigued, but genuinely liking both of these women and identifying with them in different ways. As the story unfolds, you find that their lives intersect and they are connected to one another in a magical way.
I found myself not only caring about these women, but by the end of the book I wished for more of them. Stephanie Lehman brings you perfectly back in time to turn of the century New York City and makes it real. I love her references to actual places and events and I found myself more than once Googling some of that information to learn more about it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely book and am hoping for a possible sequel to see what happens next in the lives of Amanda and Olive.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book…
“The past doesn’t just go away; it lingers on. You can actually touch and see the remains, and to the extent that these souvenirs survive, the past is present. You can’t say that for the future. It’s not here in any form. I can’t be; it hasn’t arrived yet. Once it does arrive, it’s the present, but only fleetingly before it’s the past. You can never hold the future in your hands.”
I hope you will consider this book…and enjoy it!