NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

4.0 out of 5 stars The past continues on in our worldly goods if we make sure to take care of them..., July 14, 2013

I am a total sucker for historical fiction set in New York at the turn of the century (1900s). This parallel novel uses the points of view of the two central characters -- Olive Wescott, a young woman who becomes a department store buyer for Siegel-Cooper in 1907 and Amanda Rosenbloom, the owner of a clothing shop in present day Manhattan that she's named Astor Place Vintage. Amanda "meets" Olive when she is called to collect and appraise clothing from Jane Kelly, a wealthy 98-year-old woman who is dying of cancer in a high-rise on Tenth Street. In the trunk she buys from Jane, Amanda finds a journal tucked inside an old fur stole. The journal was written during a difficult time in the city for single women by Olive after a tragedy that changes her life. In 1907, women had few rights and no power, poor job opportunities and no social standing without a man. Olive is very forward thinking and career minded while her contemporary, Amanda, is locked in the past.

I really enjoyed this novel! The descriptions of life and times in those days were fascinating and I loved that pictures of buildings and famous tourist sites were included. The characters were interesting and very realistic and I especially relished the details of life in New York in 1907-08. Women were treated as second class citizens and denied basic rights that most of us take for granted today. Historical events were embedded in the narrative to enhance the story, such as the murder of Standford White by Harry Thaw (over his wife Evelyn Nesbit), the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and the deadly influenza epidemic. I loved the comparison between then and now with the many changes that have attempted to erase the past of that wonderful city - New York!

I'd recommend this to anyone interested in the life and times of women during that period of history in New York. I hated to reach the conclusion of the story and wish it had gone on even longer.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the eGalley copy for review.

No comments:

Post a Comment