Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Book Review -Vintage Social History

Alligators, Old Mink and New Money, A Vintage Affair and Gypsy Boy

An eclectic mix of books for this review - all have a social history thread running through them, two are based on real life social history and the third is fiction but no doubt based on a hint of truth in places.

Book 1 - Alligators, Old Mink and New Money by Alison and Melissa Houtte

I came across this book on Maria's Rosy Tinted Spectacles blog and ordered a copy from Amazon - I wasn't disappointed. This book tells the tale of a vintage shop in Brooklyn (which through the magic of the internet you can read up about in more detail here.)

Alison Houtte, who is a former model, branches out into vintage wear and this book explains how that happened. She is a fabulous observer of human nature and her stories come across as honest and often heart warming.

Book 2 - A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

A fictional version of book 1 in some respects, this time set in London. It is one woman's tale of coming to terms with loss and opening up a vintage clothes shop. Along the way she meets some interesting characters including Therese who is also still grieving. The two women bond and give each other some comfort from their respective losses in more ways than one. There is the obligatory boyfriend of course just to add a little romance to story. 

Book 3 - Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh

My son bought this for me and once I started reading it I was gripped, literally couldn't put it down. Mikey, a Romany, tells us the story of his brutal childhood which gives the reader an insight into the lives of the gypsy community. Mikey is keen to stress he is a Romany, not a Traveller and he also gives some background as to why this is an important distinction to make. Mikey, despite all he has been through, is proud of his gypsy heritage and this book is not a criticism of the way he grew up - it's more of a factual account. There are a few laughs in the book but not many, Mikey's childhood, as I said previously, was brutal. There is a sequel this book Gypsy Boy on the Run and it seems there will be a film version too. You read more here.

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