When a New York City vintage clothing shop owner’s recent purchases contain a hidden journal from 1907, her entire life will be turned upside down in this “insightful, charming, and wholly entertaining novel” (Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner).
Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she’son 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.
Lehmann's enchanting fifth novel (after You Could Do Better) tells the stories of two New York women a century apart, interweaving their lives through playful synchronicity and hints of the supernatural. The present-day timeline involves Amanda Rosenbloom, who owns the eponymous Astor Place Vintage clothing store and has a strong attachment to the past. She mourns the spread of modern buildings in the East Village, where the store is located, and can't let go of her married lover Jeff, a man she's known since high school. While going through some consigned wares, Amanda discovers the 1907 diary of Olive Westcott, an upper-class woman who dreamed of becoming a department store buyer. The story switches to the past, with Olive, after her father's death, facing widespread prejudices against women working and supporting themselves economically. Amanda feels an increasing connection to Olive and meets a possible descendant of the diarist,, in the process gaining the strength to assert her own emotional independence. Lehmann does a seamless job of moving between the past and present and gives a definite sense of place to the story's two periods, with rich descriptions of city life and architecture. First-class storytelling with an enticing dose of New York City history.