Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: Astor Place Vintage

Astor Place Vintage: A NovelAuthor: Stephanie Lehmann
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Touchstone

When a vintage clothing store owner in New York City discovers a journal from 1907, she finds her destiny at stake as the past and present collide. The past has a seductive allure to Amanda Rosenbloom, especially when it comes to vintage clothing. She’s devoted to running her shop, Astor Place Vintage, but with Manhattan’s rising rents and a troubled economy, it’s tough to keep the business alive. Meanwhile, she can’t bring herself to end an affair with a man who really should be history. When Amanda finds a journal sewn into a fur muff she’s recently acquired for the shop, she’s happy to escape into the world of Olive Westcott, a young lady who lived in New York City one hundred years ago.
As Amanda becomes immersed in the journal, she learns the future appeals to Olive. Olive looks forward to a time when repressive Victorian ideas have been replaced by more modern ways of thinking. But the financial panic of 1907 thrusts her from a stable, comfortable life into an uncertain and insecure existence. She’s resourceful and soon finds employment, but as she’s drawn into the social circle of shopgirls living on the edge of poverty, Olive is tempted to take risks that could bring her to ruin. Reading Olive’s woes, Amanda discovers a secret that could save her future and keep her from dwelling in the past.

It’s Olive, however, who ends up helping Amanda, through revelations that come in the final entries of the journal. As the lives of these two women merge, Amanda is inspired to stop living in the past and take control of her future.

I had moved to Manhattan from Cold Springs…My favorite part of living in our brand-new apartment-hotel was breakfast delivered every morning on a dumbwaiter.

“That’s ridiculous. You’re far too modest. And a new wardrobe is the best way to build up confidence. Take some enjoyment in your new status as a young lady in New York.”

I would’ve liked to stay and admire the handsome singer, but the morning was slipping past; I forced myself to walk directly to the moving staircase and began my journey to the fifth floor.

I wanted to read more. The adventures of a young woman arriving in Manhattan never got old for me. I could ask Mrs. Kelly to let me borrow it, but what if she refused? Did she even know it was there? It would be simpler to just take it and return it later, no harm done.

This remarkable and enriching tale follows the lives of two women, Olive and Amanda. Olive lived in 1907 New York City, where as Amanda resides in present day New York City. Olive aspired to be a buyer for a retail clothing store, and in 1907 this was the highest paying job a woman could have. Amanda is the proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, a vintage clothing store. Amanda’s life is suddenly turned right side up when she finds Olive’s old journal sewn in a fur muff. Amanda begins to read about Olive’s experiences and begins to feel enlightened on a few of her own life happenings while in the process.

Quite frankly I enjoyed every nook and cranny of this book. I loved reading about Olive’s experiences as a woman in 1907 and being able to compare them to Amanda’s choices and life experiences in modern day society. This book felt very much like an endearing movie that I would watch over and over again. It was very symbolic and nostalgic to know that Amanda was at a place in her life that Olive always dreamed to be. They walked all over the same New York City, just several years apart. The alternating narration was beautiful, and I must say that I enjoyed Olive’s voice the best.

The friendship that Olive and Amanda formed through her journal was something that only an author this talented could capture. I had to remind myself at times that Olive was speaking from a journal and was not there in the flesh sharing memories, stories, and inspiration with Amanda. Amanda is having an affair with a married man in this book, something I did not like, but Olive really helps her see the bigger picture. Amanda starts to realize how appreciative she should be and she starts to see what her life could be if she would just let go!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Touchstone in exchange for my honest review***


  1. I enjoyed this novel--especially Olive. I thought New York was fascinating during this time period and even though I am no great shakes at fashion, I did enjoy Amanda's career and Olive's desire to become a buyer for a large store. Both women were interesting characters.

  2. Oh! Great review you made me want to read the book so bad :) I love the idea of two women in such different times... I love dual point of views so I'll check this book for sure