Violet Turner owns Hourglass Vintage, a small vintage clothing shop in Madison, Wisconsin. She’s already been through an unfulfilling marriage, but her phoenix tattoo reminds her that life after divorce will allow her to rise from those ashes. Violet thinks she’s doing fine on her own, but several women and one man enter her store and her life, changing both. Amithi, who’s initially just cleaning out her grown daughter’s closets, comes to learn the truth about her own marriage and finds a place at Hourglass Vintage where she feels necessary and valuable once again. Betsy is an aging widow with lots of money and an impulse to help others, which leads her to pair April, a pregnant and alone 18-year-old hoping to begin college, with Violet. The women, particularly April and Violet, get to know each other through their experiences at the store, and weather new adventures together, like Violet’s upcoming eviction, April’s ex-boyfriend’s attempts to contact her, a drag queen fashion show to raise money for the shop, and a burgeoning relationship between Violet and a former high school classmate.
The book is easy to read and readers will find themselves wanting to know more about each character. This is what keeps us reading, but turns out to be a downfall when it seems that the characters exist mainly on a surface level, with Gloss repeating tendencies and themes rather than digging deeper so that readers feel they know them well. Each chapter begins with a short list of details about an item for sale at Hourglass Vintage, which often pertains directly to the action of that particular chapter. It’s a fun detail reminding us of the history present in a story that otherwise takes place entirely in the present day.