Lost souls find new hope in a Madison, Wis., resale shop, in Gloss’ debut.
Owning Hourglass Vintage, which sells estate clothing and other high-end castoffs, has helped Violet reconstitute her life after divorce from alcoholic husband Jed. But now her landlord, hoping to cash in on a real estate boom, is forcing her to either exercise her option to buy the building (unlikely at the seven-figure price tag) or vacate. Other characters enter the store with their own dilemmas, represented by the items they choose to sell. April, a teenage mom-to-be, brings in her wedding dress, never worn—her mother died recently in a car crash that might have been a suicide, and her fiance, Charlie, has called off the wedding after his snobbish parents threatened to disown him. Amithi is selling jewelry and saris which carry unpleasant associations since she learned of her husband’s infidelity. (She had always thought her marriage, though arranged by parents in India years ago, was a happy one.) April, who exhibits a knack for figures and computing, wangles an internship at Hourglass and begins to organize Violet’s hopelessly haphazard inventory system. Successive crises test the women's mettle and the bonds between them. To raise money, Violet mounts a fashion show featuring Madison’s trashiest-talking drag queens and a surprise guest appearance. Unfortunately, too much exposition-laden dialogue slows the pace, and the novel’s ending is anything but surprising.
A likable but lackluster debut, not likely to stand out in the crowded field of fiction about women united by a common pursuit.