Review: Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

Title: Astor Place Vintage
Author: Stephanie Lehmann
Publisher: Touchstone
Released: June 11, 2013
Source: author

Synopsis (from publisher):

Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she’s on just another call to appraise and possibly purchase clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to Manhattan in 1907. Olive was set on pursuing a career as a department store buyer in an era when Victorian ideas, limiting a woman’s sphere to marriage and motherhood, were only beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by one hundred years, Amanda finds she’s connected to Olive in ways neither could ever have imagined.

Astor Place Vintage arrived in my mailbox at just the right time. I was wanting to read something light and fun, but not mindless. A mix of chick lit and historical fiction, this book fit the bill.

The story is told in alternating perspectives by two women living in New York City 100 years apartOlive, age 20 in 1907, and Amanda, age 39 in 2007.

Amanda drove me nuts. I found her a little shallow and completely juvenile. Plus, she’s been having an affair with a married man for years, and the only remorse she ever seems to feel has only to do with what she has lost. Well, boo-hoo! I can’t count the number of times I rolled my eyes at her. I didn’t feel sympathetic toward her character at all, but I also didn’t mind watching the train wreck.

But Olive… Olive was a fantastic character! I loved watching her change, become empowered, break away from societal expectations. In a sense, this is Olive’s coming-of-age story. I was surprised by how inhibited women of her time and her social class were, by how taboo it was to discuss very normal things that take place in a woman’s life. I also didn’t realize single women had so much trouble finding a respectable place to live; apparently being unmarried was frowned upon.

Astor Place Vintage has a satisfying conclusion, and overall is an engaging read. There are even turn-of-the-century photographs of New York City interspersed throughout. This book is perfect for vacations, the beach… anytime you want something undemanding yet not frivolous.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.