Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she’s been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.
Things aren’t going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras.
When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads – by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.
The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda’s guides still work. It’s going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off . . .
I love that feeling you get when you read a really good book that makes you desperately want to be the main character. This is the feeling that I got when I read the latest Kirsty Greenwood novel The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance. I wanted to be Jess Baum.
To be fair, I kind of felt akin to the main character: child of the 80s; likes to have fun; doesn’t take life to seriously and clearly hasn’t got it all figured out. It is these few characteristics (among a plethora of others) that make her so likeable. She is a bit klutzy and damaged and tends to put her foot in her mouth and she swears like a trouper. To begin with she is a bit of a ladette.
When Jessica goes in search of her estranged grandmother Matilda, her whole life and routine takes a sharp turn. She goes from being the mad nutter in the room who everyone wants to party with to a facsimile of a well put together lady. In a transformation worthy of a teen movie, we see not only Jess’s physical change but also her persona. Gone is the self protecting shield, her defences go down and he starts to fall in love with her new family and her new life.
The love story between Jess and Leo is played out perfectly. You get scared for Jess as you read along and you scream at the characters because you know that things are going to go wrong if they don’t listen to you. It is that kind of story; one you cannot help but get completely immersed in. You feel as though the characters – Jess in particular – is your friend.
What is also rather special about The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance is that it isn’t just Jess’s story. It is a story of three generations of Baum women all who have a different outlook on how they should live their lives. There is incredible sadness mixed with quaint tradition and laugh out loud humour. The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance has so much to offer.
But besides the great story telling you also have the fashion. Now I am not really into my clothes but I do admit to having a rather big soft spot for vintage garb and era defining outfits. The style and pizzazz of the clothes that Jess gets to wear will make you envious because the descriptions ooze class. Perfection.
If you only read one book this year (which in my opinion is a completely weird thing to do) then make sure it is The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance. Kirsty Greenwood has knocked it out of the park with this gem of a book.
The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood is available now.
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