#Book Review: The Vintage Shop of Second Chances

Libby Page

A new book by Libby Page arrived on Friday bringing weekend captivation and saying nope to writing my own (academic) book. It was also one of those rare occasions when I pre-ordered the book. I don’t get passionate or excited about authors often even if I like what they wrote. But this is a different thing.

Libby Page writes books about everyday normal people, like you, me or the next person, and their lives. What is more, she writes about communities and people coming together to help and support each other. The latter misses in my life for sure as I do not feel comfortable joining any groups and have not been able to do that ever since I immigrated from Croatia. Not sure why, just feel uncomfortable, plan things out and then never go anywhere. But I certainly do enjoy reading books about communities and everyday people and I do watch a TV programme that tackles that, which is why my favourite series are some sitcoms and also drama series that follow the lives of their characters. This is why I like Libby’s writing because it is always about communities whether an island one, a café, a lido or a vintage shop.

In this book, we meet Lou, a woman who just lost her wonderful mother and is trying to process the grief whilst also opening a beautiful and colourful vintage shop I know my colleague Esther would certainly visit if it was real. Lou follows her dream of owning this shop and fulfils her mother’s wish to do something for herself, return to her native Somerset and open a shop whilst also leaving a dreadful recruitment job in London. As Lou is processing grief and starting her new business and making the dream come through, she also waits for her flat to be refurbished and moves in as a lodger with Maggie, a woman in her 70s who just divorced and does not know what to do with herself. At the same time, Donna in the United States discovered that she was adopted. The only connection between all these women is a beautiful yellow dress with embroidered flowers that sits in Lou’s vintage shop above the till and that belonged to her late mother.

The way this dress was portrayed in the book is absolutely beautiful and it shows that clothes can have a meaning that goes beyond their practical use, which continually created a feel-good sentiment whilst reading the book. I do like buying second-hand clothes because of environmental reasons and the fact I can more easily find the 1970s style which I love deeply, but I never saw clothes from charity shops as pieces that have a story and a history, or significance in any way. It also never occurred to me that it is entirely plausible that a piece of clothing in photos could reunite people if a reverse search is performed for images on social media. After all, fashion is part of social history, I know this quite well because I teach fashion communications and whilst I always saw it as an inextricable part of social history, it never occurred to me to think of fashion as something where each item has a story of a human who owned it before…

Beautiful. Inspiring. Read this.

Thank you for reading.

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