Picture This: A Visit With Susan Gloss

Today’s post from author Susan Gloss | @SusanGloss

Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss

My debut novel, Vintage, was inspired heavily by images. In fact, each chapter begins with the description of a vintage item from the inventory of the fictional secondhand shop, Hourglass Vintage, that serves as the setting of the novel.  A 1950s wedding dress, an embroidered silk scarf from India, a pair of red d’Orsay heels–all of these items have stories behind them. And those stories are woven, either directly or indirectly, into the lives of the book’s three main characters, Violet, April, and Amithi.

One image that sparked the idea for a pivotal scene in the book was this set of 1960s Samsonite luggage. A globe-trotting friend of mine purchased it on Etsy. As soon as I saw the lemon yellow suitcase and matching carry-on, my imagination drifted to thoughts about who might have owned the set. Did she receive it as a graduation gift? Buy it for herself for her honeymoon? Stash it in the back of her trunk for a cross-country move?

vintage luggageIn Vintage, shop owner Violet Turner is smitten with other people’s stories, as told through the items that come into and out of her boutique. But when it comes to her own life, she holds her cards close to her chest, hesitant to reveal details of her own troubled past. A failed marriage to her high school sweetheart, who quickly devolved into an abusive alcoholic, left her wary of letting anyone get too close.

A yellow suitcase just like the one pictured here works its way into the storyline in Vintage when, in a flashback, Violet finally decides to leave her ex and start a new life. She packs her belongings into a suitcase her beloved Grandma Lou gave to her. Up until this pivotal point, Violet has spent her whole life in Bent Creek, a tiny fictional town in Northern Wisconsin. When she flips opens the yellow suitcase, she’s also opening herself to the possibility of something bigger and brighter. A second chance.

* * *

VintageHC CVintage is Susan Gloss’s sparkling debut novel in the vein of The Friday Night Knitting Club, centered around a Midwestern vintage clothing shop and and a group of women who eventually transform the store and each others’ lives.

At Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, every item in the boutique has a story to tell . . . and so do the women who are drawn there.

Violet Turner has always dreamed of owning a shop like Hourglass Vintage. When she is faced with the possibility of losing it, she realizes that, as much as she wants to, she cannot save it alone.

Eighteen-year-old April Morgan is nearly five months along in an unplanned pregnancy when her hasty engagement is broken. When she returns the perfect 1950s wedding dress, she discovers unexpected possibilities and friends who won’t let her give up on her dreams.

Betrayed by her husband, Amithi Singh begins selling off her old clothes, remnants of her past life. After decades of housekeeping and parenting a daughter who rejects her traditional ways, she fears she has nothing more ahead for her.

An engaging story that beautifully captures the essence of women’s friendship and love, Vintage is a charming tale of possibility, of finding renewal and hope when we least expect it.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

10 Responses to Picture This: A Visit With Susan Gloss

  1. Ellen Firer April 14, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I loved the book and will add it to our library’s staff picks. The individual stories were intertwined well; looking forward to your next novel.

  2. Susan April 14, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks, Ellen. I love libraries and the people who work at them.

  3. Natalia Sylvester April 14, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    That is one gorgeous yellow suitcase, Susan. I’m not at all surprised it sparked so many questions and idea. It looks like it’s been on many, many great adventures.

  4. Susan April 14, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have a carry-on just like the yellow one here, but mine’s in red. I love taking it on weekend trips. So much cuter than a backpack.

  5. Katherine Jones April 14, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I love novels like these that bring together an otherwise unrelated cast and their stories of their lives. Looks like a lovely read.

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