The Charm Bracelet
By: Viola Shipman
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 3/22/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars
Through an heirloom charm bracelet three women will rediscover the importance of family, love, faith, friends, fun and a passion for living as the magic of each charm changes their lives.
Lolly, still lives in the family cabin on Lost Land Lake where her mother gave her the charm bracelet that would become Lolly's talisman and connection to family past and Lolly hopes the present, but her daughter, Arden, and granddaughter, Lauren, haven't visited in years and time is running out for Lolly.
Arden, couldn't wait to leave her small town life behind for Chicago, but now divorced and burned out at work, she's simply trying to make it from day to day. In the rush of life she's let the years and all the things she once enjoyed slip away. When she receives an unexpected phone call about her mother she must decide if she can face going home.
Lauren, a talented young painter buries her passion to study business in the hopes of helping her mother after she discovers that her father left Arden struggling to make ends meet, but Lauren is slowly dying inside and doesn't know how to tell her mother the truth.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Wade Rouse delivers THE CHARM BRACELET a heartwarming debut, in tribute to his special grandmother, Viola Shipman--Beautifully written, rich in character, history, memories and infused with lots of love. Where each charm holds a story, fond memories, and a key unlocking a secret part of her life. A magical tale of things, people, and places, important and dear to our lives, we often take for granted. The simpler times, of our previous generations and their powerful voices of wisdom. Three women discover the importance of family and forgiveness--- as charms take a part in changing their lives. Misunderstandings, unsaid words, guilt, and resentment get in the way of life. When sometimes the smallest things are the greatest gifts. Finding your way back. Reconnections. A story that celebrates family and love in their many forms. From July, 1953 we meet Lolly. Her mom had a story for every charm. Lolly’s birthday fell on the Fourth of July—a child of summer. Every year she received a charm from her mother on special occasions; from Christmas, trips, school accomplishments, and every birthday. This year it was half a heart. She had the other half, they would always be a part of one another. With a poem: “That every step along the way, I have loved you so. So each time you open up, A little box from me Remember that I really all Began with You and Me.” She promised she would always tell the story to the next generation. Then her mom was gone. We flash forward to July 4, 2013, and even though her mother took half her heart, Lolly kept all her charms. Her mother was right-- the charm bracelet is always a constant reminder of her love. She had vowed she would share the stories with daughter. However, her daughter, Arden had left and moved to Chicago. She never visited. Her life was busy and time was slipping by. She has to remind her of history and traditions but she seemed to shrug off the gesture. Every year on her birthday, she can feel her mom speaking through the charms. Through time and space, they are connected by lucky charms, representing love. Flashbacks to 1901 (my favorite part); we learn about the sewing machine charm--Mary worked alongside her mother Marian O’Connell in Ireland, as a seamstress making specialty dresses for the wealthier families. Then she is on her way to America, alone for a better life—where she received the worn silver charm.. She misses her family, left behind. The charm was given to her by a special lady, to represent a life bound by family. No matter how far away they may be. She was promised as long as she wore it, they would always be near. She was making her way once again from New York, to Michigan to her aunt and uncle’s home. It is here she meets a fellow Irishman. Her life begins. Sometimes not always an easy journey--loss, love, and life. We meet Arden, 2014, Lolly’s daughter, now grown, living in Chicago five hours away with granddaughter, Lauren, in college. She grew up visiting their grandmother every summer in Michigan at her cabin on Lost Land Lake where Lolly still lives. Every day was an adventure with her grandmother. She had taught her so much, to believe anything was possible. Her grandmother always encouraged them to dream; whereas her mom, was always throwing out caution, be sensible, and plan. There was a chill between Arden and Lolly. As Lolly grows older, her mom and dad are long gone--she has celebrated her birthday alone for years. She knows it is time for reconnecting with her daughter and granddaughter. Their family history has to live on. Now seventy and starting to forget things, Lolly knows time is running out. A story behind every keepsake —a charm, unlocking hearts with beauty, peace, faith, happiness, friends, and fond memories. The strong and powerful bonds between mothers and daughters. As the author mentions, we may not be aware of the stories of our grandmothers and mothers. It may be time to listen to the stories from the past. An inspring story, intertwined with nostalgia and heirlooms, reminding us life is short—we need to unhook and spend time, and get to know those special people in our lives, before it is too late. Treasure our friends, family, and passions in life. Fans of Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, Mariah Stewart, and Susan Wiggs will appreciate the idyllic setting, nostalgia and the warmhearted gem-- of family and love. Would make an ideal gift for Mother’s Day. Looking forward to more from the author! Charms have been a part the human experience for thousands of years. Early man would pick up an interestingly shaped or colored stone and carry it with him as a talisman of protection or good luck. As the story expresses, today charms are worn to express ourselves or commemorate special occasions and can still evoke strong feelings. They represent our passions, interests and hobbies, making wonderful personal and cherished gifts, lasting for generations; reminding us of special people, places or events. When I read stories such as this, wish we all could rewind and go back to simpler times, with real conversations--No devices. The lazy glorious summer days at the lake with picnics, and fun-filled days, with nowhere else to be.
Shipman’s charming story of finding peace in oneself, listening to your heart, and remembering all those who came before you will be welcomed by fans of Cecelia Ahern and Debbie Macomber.”
—Library Journal “Shipman compellingly depicts the bonds of family, revealing that the moments of trials and tribulations are part of lives filled with hope and faith.”
— Publisher’s Weekly “Three generations of women share the tradition of wearing charm bracelets to honor the big moments of their lives. Debut novelist Shipman—a pen name chosen by memoirist Wade Rouse (It’s All Relative, 2011, etc.) in homage to his grandmother—pulls out all the emotional bells and whistles here; his book reads like a fictionalized guide to living the good life (“Live! Love! Laugh!”) and checks all the boxes—family, friends, God, love, and simple living—designed to warm the heart and fill the tear ducts. Smooth writing, unabashed sentimentality.”
— Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
The work of author and humorist Wade Rouse has been featured multiple times on NBC’s Today Show as well as on Chelsea Lately on E!, People, Salon.com, Forbes.com, Publisher’s Weekly and Writer’s Digest. USA Today calls Wade “a wise, witty and often wicked voice,” and the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic states that Rouse’s memoirs are filled with “sparkling humor” and that everyone should “read Wade Rouse, especially if you value laughter and wisdom.” Writer’s Digest recently named Rouse the #2 Writer, Dead or Alive, “We'd Love to Have Drinks With” (Wade was just behind Ernest Hemingway, and just ahead of Hunter S. Thompson).
VIOLA SHIPMAN is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write his debut novel, which is a tribute to all of our elders. Rouse lives in Michigan and writes regularly for People and Coastal Living, among other places, and is a contributor to All Things Considered. To date, The Charm Bracelet has been translated into nine languages. He is at work on his second “heirloom novel,” which will be published in 2017.
THE STORY OF VIOLA
The Charm Bracelet is a tribute to my Ozarks grandmother, Viola Shipman, who I grew up alongside, the jangling of her charm bracelet as ever-present as the moan of the bullfrogs, the call of the whippoorwill and the hum of the cicadas.
It was through the charms on my grandmother’s bracelet that I got to know her. I found that each charm held a story, a key that unlocked a secret part of her life. Through these charms, I got to know my grandmother not just as a grandmother but also as an incredible woman who had lived an extraordinary life filled with beauty, hope and tragedy.
My grandmother’s story and life jangled in my head for years, and I felt compelled to write a novel based on her charms and the lessons she taught me: That the simplest things in life – family, friends, faith, fun, love, and a passion for what you do – truly are the grandest gifts. I couldn’t be prouder of this novel, which not only honors my grandmother, with the pen name Viola Shipman, but also all of our elders. Read More For more about the author, please visit Wade Rouse’s official website.