Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

Publisher: Touchstone Books
Publication Date: June 2013
Categories: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Women
Source: Thank you Stephanie Lehmann!
Description:

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.

Why Should You Read This Book? 
  • The characters are the most realistic I’ve read in a long while. Seriously. They make decisions that you don’t often see in books. They are real women with realistic dilemmas.
  • Do you want to be grateful to be a modern woman? Imagine using sanitary napkins connected to belts. Good gravy, no. How about not understanding what the “sex act” actually is with no way to find out? Would you like to rent an apartment or a hotel room? You’d best be accompanied by a man or it’s no dice. We’ve come a long way baby and this novel will remind you of that.
  • The historical tidbits in this book are spot-on. Ms. Lehmann did her research and she did it well. I was checking Wikipedia like a mad woman to learn even more about the events that were mentioned.
  • I’ve read many books that swing back and forth from the present to a time in history. I’ve never read one that did it this successfully. I’m almost always in a hurry to get back to the past. Not this time. I consider that a small literary miracle.
  • Astor Place Vintage is an absolute delight. I think you’d agree. 

Stephanie Lehmann received her BA at U.C. Berkeley and an MA in English from New York University. She has taught novel writing at Mediabistro and online at Salon.com, where her essays have been published. She currently lives in New York City. Astor Place Vintage is her fifth novel.

You can find Stephanie on Facebook and on Twitter.

36 thoughts on “Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

  1. Now THIS sounds like my cup of tea! I love dirty historical tidbits. Tell me more more more about how bad people smelled before deodorant! I need to appreciate my world!

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  2. Ok, the description would have left me unimpressed. Every historical novel seems to have alternating viewpoints and a hidden journal. But your enthusiasm about the characters and plot are going to make me re-think this one! 🙂

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  3. This sounds a lot like Sarah Jio's novels, which I usually like. But for REAL, no thanks on the belt-pads. Ugh, periods must have been so much worse back in the day.

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  4. You're definitely selling this book to me. I just read The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro which also was a good historical fiction – I've been ignoring this type of book a bit, but I'm ready for more now.

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  5. Your review is very persuasive, but I'm a little tired of alternating historical and contemporary settings right now. Will wait a bit on this one, I think, but will keep it in mind!

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  6. Definitely adding this to my to-read list. I recently read The Perfume Collector and liked it for a lot of the same reasons you liked this book, so I expect it would be a good read for me 🙂 Thanks for the great review!

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