This fascinating creative non-fiction book introduced me to people who make a living dealing in antiques; the history behind certain kinds of antiques, auctions, flea markets, and the like; and the controversies rife in the antiques world. The author shadowed her old friend, mid-level antiques dealer Curt Avery for an insider's glimpse of the antiquing life. Stanton tells Curt's story as he works hard and tirelessly to support his family through his obsession. He is incredibly knowledgeable, mostly self-taught, and willing to share his information with Stanton as well as offering his customers historical tidbits about the pieces in which they show an interest. Interspersed with Curt's tale are lengthier history lessons about specific antiques and even auctions and flea markets themselves. Stanton looks at the obsession we Americans have for "stuff" and what collecting says about us, highlighting some different, even macabre collections.
The triumph of the book is the easy, casual writing and the way in which Stanton has made a somewhat esoteric topic gripping reading. She knows just when to veer from her main story and add an historical tidbit and how to raise the tension over whether Avery will win an auction or sell a piece for ten times the price he paid. She's captured the down and dirty aspects of a dealer's life and the feel of attending show after show after show, packing and unpacking wares at each of them. The book is incredibly readable, compulsively interesting and has even made me want to visit a flea market sometime despite knowing that I'd be the frustratingly ignorant customer at whom so many dealers scoff.
For more information about Maureen Stanton and the book visit her webpage or follow her on Twitter.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.