7 December 2014

The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne

Hey everyone,

I wasn’t originally going to review the audiobook version of The Vintage Girl by Hester Browne, it was a book I purely listened to because I enjoyed the story. When I pick a book to review I feel I to have something intelligent to say about the book. I need to make a note of what I did and didn’t like and although it doesn’t lessen my enjoyment of the romance genre it does change how I approach reading it.

This week I felt like taking a reading holiday, I just wanted to read books I enjoyed rather than ones I thought were appropriate to review (basically I try to review more recently published books and keep the genres varied, nothing sinister before you get the wrong idea). But as soon as I finished this book I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions, despite how long ago it was originally released, or the fact that its already been hugely successful and has loads of reviews. So these are my thoughts and opinions on The Vintage Girl and I apologise if I just end up repeating what thousands have probably already said.

The (audio)book:

When Evie Nicholson is asked to visit Kettlesheer Castle in Scotland to archive the family heirlooms, she jumps at the chance. Evie's passion for antiques means that, for her, the castle is a treasure trove of mysteries just waiting to be uncovered. 

But in each heirloom lies a story, and in the course of her investigations Evie stumbles upon some long-buried family secrets. Add handsome, gloomy heir Robert McAndrew and a traditional candlelit gala to the mix, and Evie's heart is sent reeling with an enthusiasm that may just extend beyond the Kettlesheer silver....

My thoughts:

Time to let you all in on a little secret, I heavily dislike chick lit, and I hope i’m not the only romance reader to think this. It isn’t that chick lit is bad (although really can we pick a less insipid name) it just isn’t my cup of tea and I dislike how romance and chick lit are often paired together, as if the two genres are interchangeable, when as any reader of either genre will know they have subtle but significant differences. In many ways The Vintage Girl leans slightly more towards chick lit than I would usually be comfortable with, and if it had been a book rather than an audiobook I proudly wouldn’t have brought it.

Oh what a book I would have missed out on. From the very beginning I enjoyed Cathleen McCarron’s narration of this truly funny book. Evie is perhaps one of my favourite heroines ever, and not only because we share of love of all things old. I too am a collector of the lost and forgotten ‘treasures’ from ages past and as I look around my room I can see an old measuring tape, a suitcase full of football programmes from the 1960s and a box of stuff from my grandmothers attic, namely kitchen appliances from the 1950s. I never admitted to being normal. Like Evie I can’t look at an object without imagining its history, always romanticised of course. Some of my fondest memories are from visiting old stately homes from across the United Kingdom. Evie was my sort of heroine, she wasn’t sure of herself, she didn’t always have the right answer and people sometimes found her a little strange.

Returning to my previous comment about chick lit being different from romance, for me one of the crucial differences is that in chick lit the focus is much more centred on the female protagonist. Rather than following the journey of a couple, it tends to follow the self-discovery or growth of one female lead and in many ways The Vintage Girl is about Evie’s personal development rather than her relationship with Robert. Although this book is light-hearted and cause me to laugh out loud a far few times, it was also about Evie’s growth both professionally and personally. At the beginning of the book she has a rather, in my opinion, inappropriate infatuation on her sister’s boyfriend Fraser. To her Fraser represents the ideal gentlemen, and she spends considerable time picturing him astride a horse in regency clothing.

I’ll be honest I didn’t like the fact that Evie had feelings for Fraser, no matter how harmless they were. Crushing on your sister’s boyfriend is a big no-no in my book, however, I can see why Hester Browne chose to do this as by the end of the book it becomes clear that her feelings for Fraser are part of a larger pattern. It was also what made her feelings for Robert that much more real and important. Robert wasn’t Evie’s usual type, he was urban, extremely modern and dismissive of his ancestral past, that Evie became fascinated with. Yet it was clear that Robert and Evie meant something to each other because they allowed the other to see life from a different perspective. This isn’t a romance with a passionate love affair but instead offers a gentle and quiet build up feelings.

This is a book I could talk about for a long, long time, however, I don’t want to ruin the plot further by saying what happens and how it happens. Instead I will merely encourage you to read or listen to this book yourself. The narration is extremely good and I loved the emotion Cathleen McCarron put into the story, even if the Scottish accents were a little bit questionable at times. A great feel good book that had me in a good mood for days, hence why I couldn’t help but share it with you!

My rating:
Happy reading everyone and see you next time!