Thursday, March 3, 2016

Someone Else's Love Letter by Deborah Blumenthal Blog Tour

Fixing your wardrobe is a dream job. Fixing your life is a work of art.

Sage Parker has the perfect occupation for a Manhattanite―she helps the rich and powerful keep their wardrobes current and suitable for every need. Her sense of fashion is impeccable, her connections are unsurpassed, and her eye misses not a single well-made stitch.

So when she discovers a love note left in the back of a cab, Sage admires the card stock and the ink, but also the heartfelt words. She sets out on a mission to find out who the love note was intended for―and who wrote it.

What Sage discovers will broaden her horizons and change her life, introducing her to an extraordinary woman who is revamping her entire world midway through life, a dashing Brit with a hive of secrets, and a free-spirited painter, whose brush captures the light in everything he paints, including Sage.

Fans of Isabel Wolff and Kathleen Tessaro will be hopelessly enchanted with Sage Parker and this mesmerizing, heartfelt novel of bold fashion and bolder choices.

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A woman with a name that regularly appeared under photos of society events called me to do a closet assessment. I usually shied away from taking on clients outside the city, but something about her commanding voice and her address at the shore intrigued me. In the fall it was an easy two-and-a-half-hour trip to the Hamptons.

Neil Young singing “Heart of Gold” made the claustrophobic drive through the Midtown tunnel bearable. Then onto the sluggish Long Island Expressway. No wonder locals call it the L-I-E. Before lunch I was in rural farm country on local roads passing Quogue, all whitewashed and pure, a heavenly haven for city escapees.

Her house was about half an hour further. Southampton homes were palatial, set further apart than in most other communities. The compound overlooked the ocean and the bay on open beachfront with acres of privacy. I followed the circular driveway to the sound of gravel—or maybe diamonds—crunching beneath the tires. I got out and stretched, glancing up to watch the seagulls’ ballet. The sea air was misted with salt water and ocean perfume.

The house was a two-story Greek revival flanked by heavy white columns. The doorbell set off a round of barking like gunshots. A woman with honey-colored hair, impeccable posture, and a waspish waist opened the door. Two taut Rhodesian Ridgebacks, each almost half her height, stood on either side of her, sentries staring up at me with shining eyes. All they needed was Santa hats on their heads to make it a perfect Christmas card photo.

“Stay,” she commanded.

How could I not dwell on the fact that the breed was intensely prey driven? And there I was, wafting eau d’Harry, who’d sooner lick another animal than eat it.

“I’m Sage Parker,” I said, extending my hand.

“Mary Alice Moriarity,” she said, taking it. “If the dogs bother you, I’ll put them out back.”

One of them leaned toward me and sniffed my crotch. I eased back. “They’re gorgeous, but it might be better.” With the dogs out in the yard, she joined me in the living room, a cavernous space with chairs and couches color-coordinated to the hue of the sand. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her examining my outfit. I was prepared for that. I never dressed casually. Following a brief exchange about the trip and the weather, we got down to business. “How do we begin?” she said.

“Let’s go to your closet so I can get a feel for the kind of clothes you wear.”

With a nod, she led the way up a winding mahogany staircase covered with a jewel-toned runner, vibrant despite the patina of Persian history.

“Do you live here year-round?”

“Now I do.”

Help a woman with her wardrobe and she’ll open her heart to you. As she takes off one outfit and tries another, off comes the protective armor. She’ll tell you not only how she feels about her body and sees herself but also how she feels about her life—what she loves and hates, where’s she’s been, and her hopes for the future. She’ll undress herself for you, baring her soul.

Still, it usually took more than the few seconds it takes to climb a flight of stairs to get there. She glanced back at me briefly, head high and defiant.

“My husband moved out,” she said, with as much emotion as you’d summon to discuss a chipped nail. Without another word, she strode across the bedroom into a windowless space the size of a guest room. She gestured to an adjacent closet that looked empty. “So I thought now might be the time to start some image work.”

It’s almost always about more than the clothes. On one level I was a wardrobe consultant, on another a crisis counselor. “The whole business of reassessing a wardrobe is often triggered by some major change,” I said, looking through her rack of suits. “I call it an SSE, or shape-shifting experience, meaning both the shape of your body and your life.”

A lock of hair sprang free from the short, neat style framing her pale blue eyes and the arched brows that framed them. She smoothed it back. Handsome was the word that came to my mind. Midforties, carefully dressed in brown, brown, and brown—her slacks, a shell, a cardigan, the signature Ferragamo flats. Dull, even frumpy. She needed more flair, ease, and style. I wanted to loosen her hair, push up the sleeves of the sweater, give her an armful of bracelets, the right scarf, and low-heeled boots to raise her up. Mary Alice needed contrast, less structure, and for evening, clothes with more drama, maybe satin and fur. I was thinking Ralph Rucci. She could look sexier, more sensual; she had the bones. Right now she was like a carefully set table without the flowers and food.

I walked further into the custom closet with mahogany cabinetry and antiqued brass fittings. Texas-sized, with an island in the middle with narrow drawers for accessories. The Great Santini of closets, organized with military precision, every garment on wide mahogany hangers. Unimaginable to think of an off-center crease here. Not a hemstitch would be loose nor a button missing. Where were the notes detailing when each garment was worn and where?

Brown, black, navy, charcoal, and dark green, like a patchwork of bleakness. No brights, patterns, variation, or sensuality. High-end, but bloodless. No doubt her husband left her for a cheesy blond who dolled herself up in frilly pink chiffon. Someone who loosened his tie and taught him to enjoy Dunkin’ Donuts, licking the sweet grease off his fingers.

I started out neutral. “So, how do you feel in color—bright color?”

“Never worn it.”

I opened my tote bag and pulled out my cornflower-blue shawl, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Whenever I unfolded it, my mother’s voice echoed in my head: If your neck is warm, your whole body is warm. Health lore said you covered the head to stay warm; still, I suspected she was on to something. “Try this on.”

Mary Alice wrapped it around her shoulders and studied herself in the mirror before turning to me. It brought out her eyes and enlivened her complexion.

“You look reborn. The color’s perfect.”

“How much do you want for it?”

I could have scalped my two-hundred-dollar shawl for ten times that on the spot. I shook my head. “This is show and tell. We’re not shopping yet, but we’re going to be injecting some life into your wardrobe—blue, lime, coral, yellow, pale pink.”

She twitched with uncertainty. It took most women a while to get used to what they hadn’t worn before. Imagine donning a new skin. For the rest of the morning we moved through the hangers, making sure everything fit properly. After the sixth pair of pants, she turned to me, eyebrows raised. “I guess there’s no point in trying every—”

“Right. I’m sure you would have chucked out anything that wasn’t right.”

Her back stiffened suddenly. Her failed marriage was the elephant in the room.

“I can’t fix your life,” I continued, shaking my head back and forth slowly, “but I can fix your wardrobe—and it’s a forward step.”

She smiled more genuinely than before. We were beginning to connect.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a really engaging read – I just read it in one sitting, I was fascinated by how it would work out, and there was twist after twist at the beginning which made it even more fun. I was concerned that it would be too focused on fashion and the superficial, but instead it digs somewhat deeper and gives a richer picture of Sage and her life.

Whilst one could imagine that Sage was going to be a slightly annoying and ditsy person, she is in fact a decent human being, and also great fun to spend time in her company. I laughed, I shed a few tears, and I felt her pain as she tried to decide whether she should pursue or wait to be wanted. I loved meeting the people along the way, and had a really good picture of what they were like from her.

Ms. Blumenthal has a lot of talent, and I shall be looking out for her other books, as this worked for me.

Deborah Blumenthal is the author of nineteen books for children and adults, and an award-winning journalist and nutritionist. She has been a regular contributor to the New York Times (including four years as the Sunday New York Times Magazine beauty columnist), and a home design columnist for Long Island Newsday. Her health, fitness, beauty, travel, and feature stories have appeared widely in many other newspapers and national magazines including New York’s Daily News, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Woman's Day, Family Circle, Self, and Vogue. Blumenthal lives in New York City.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Someone Else's Love Letter by Deborah Blumenthal to read and review for this tour.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely review! Thank you for hosting SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE LETTER today!

    Crystal, Tasty Book Tours


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