The Black Velvet Coat by Jill G. Hall. Berkeley: She Writes Press, 2015. 338 pages. *****
Anne McFarland, a struggling twenty-eight-year-old artist keeps hoping for a big break and longs for a one-woman show or at least to sell enough of her art to pay the bills. Spying a black velvet Dior coat in the window of Rescued Relics Thrift Shop, she can't resist trying it on and discovers to her delight a rhinestone snowflake pin on the rounded collar and a a brass key in the pocket. Buying it on impulse Anne is drawn into a fifty year old mystery about the coat's original owner, heiress Sylvia Van Dam. Sylvia's story provides the inspiration for Anne's best work and the path to a gallery show. Their two worlds intersect in a way that neither woman could have predicted and provides an unexpected twist to their lives.
I really enjoyed this book. Told in the alternating voices of Sylvia and Anne, both strong women, their stories intrigued me and held my attention. Sylvia's haunting tale is the perfect muse for Anne's art and style which leads to her success as an artist and quest to find love. I was sorry to see the story end and it's always a good book when it leaves me wanting more. This is a first novel for Hall and I am predicting, it won't be her last.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from BookSparks for a review.
Jill G. Hall facilitates creativity groups for artists of all types and curates exhibitions at Inspirations Gallery, NTC at Liberty Station. Her poems have been published in A Year in Ink, Wild Women, Wild Voices, City Works Press, Serving House Journal and The Avocet. She resides in San Diego with her husband, Jerry, and beagle-bassett, Lucy. Learn more at Jill G. Hall.