By: Viola Shipman
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 3/21/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars
The Hope Chest is a deeply emotional novel about three people who have seemingly lost all hope until one woman’s heirloom hope chest is rediscovered in the attic, along with its contents and secrets.
Mattie is a fiercely independent woman battling ALS; Don, her deeply devoted husband is facing a future without his one true love; and Rose, their struggling caregiver, is a young, single mother who feels trapped in her life. With each item that is discovered―including a beloved doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament―the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and not only helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges but also brings new meaning to family.
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Master storyteller, Viola Shipman (Wade Rouse) returns following the heartwarming debut, The Charm Bracelet (2016) and nostalgic Christmas novella Christmas Angels with the latest love story— THE HOPE CHEST poignant and beautifully crafted, a story of hope, faith, memories, second chances, life’s special moments and surprises.
Emotionally rich, heartbreaking, and yet inspiring and warm-spirited— Shipman once again demonstrates the impact of family, history, and friends. Life is precious. Life is a gift. Time. How do we choose to use it? A legacy to be continued through others. To be passed along. ,i>You can utilize what time you have, or lose it all in a blink of an eye.
Thought-provoking! One man may be losing his wife, but through her strength—he may discover a new family. From family heirlooms, nostalgia, grief, sadness, to inspiration and hope for the future.
“ . . . Hope is something you carry with you forever, not only in this chest but also in your heart. So look inside it and inside yourself when you need hope the most, and it will guide you, and remind you of what was and what is to be. . . “
Set in idyllic and charming small town of Michigan, Don and Mattie Tice have had a happy life. They have been in love since they first met many years earlier. They promised one another, till death do us part. They are approaching their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Don wishes more than anything he could freeze time. Just a little longer.
They had their cottage at Hope Dunes. Their history. However, the house was big and now Don needed help with Mattie. They now required a caregiver. Mattie has ALS— for five years, and now they are forced to move to a smaller place. Are they really ready to give up a big part of their past? What about the future?
Mattie is multi-talented. She was a successful landscape designer, with many famous clients over the years. She was also a painter. Don was an executive at Herman Miller furniture, and they both love the beauty and importance that objects and plants hold in people’s homes and lives.
Now they are left with no children and only a faithful dog, Mabel. What will he do when his loving faithful wife passes on. How will he go on? He is clinging to every moment.
Enter Rose Hoffs, and her charming, "larger- than- life" daughter, Jeri. Rose lost her parents to cancer and her husband left years ago. A divorced single mom, her parents had left her their family home; however, she is struggling to make ends meet.
She needs full-time hours versus part time in order to survive without using all her savings and her inheritance, which was dwindling quickly. She needed to hang on to her family home. She was too young to have no help. She is excited to get an opportunity to work for this couple through the service, There’s No Place Like Home, the senior care group as a caregiver.
Little does she know how she and her daughter’s life will be enhanced by this wonderful caring couple, and the impact she and her daughter will have while based on this newfound relationship.
In the years following Mattie’s diagnosis, Don had been angry, with God and at every person so insinuated that his wife would one day be better off dead.
However, Mattie made him aware his anger was misplaced. It was not all about him. She told him he was being selfish and wasting his strength and emotion over something he could not control. Time will march on. Life will continue.
. . . “We get one chance on this earth. One short little stop to get things right, and too few of us do. We focus on everything that is unimportant.”
Special keepsakes. A special hope chest for a special history. Everything has a story. Each of the heirlooms in the hope chest teaches something about one’s self. Past, present, future. Living lessons. A hope chest once filled with hope and now there is none.
From a cedar chest, scents, fragrances of the past. Filled with memories such as scrapbooks, heirlooms, family pictures, teddy bears, family bibles, special mementos, rag dolls, aprons, dishes, jewelry—precious items to be passed along to a family. Connecting the past with the future. Filled with love, hopes, and dreams.
“Hope is only one short letter from home.
H is for Hope Now and for always.
O is for the Overwhelming love I have for you.
P is for the Practical items that will make your house a home.
E is for the Eternal memories this chest will provide every time you open it up.
You are my hope, and my home, in this world, My daughter, my love. . . ”
Beautifully written, I bookmarked so many passages. Shipman has a way with words and vivid descriptions—predict he will be the next Nicholas Sparks!
Loved everything about this charming story! Readers will fall in love with the characters, as well as the comforting words to those who have recently lost loved ones or those left behind trying to make sense of their loss. You will smile and cry at the same time. No chance encounters. An ideal book for book clubs and further discussions.
Another element which was nicely done— the way Shipman used the different timelines. Often an author will spend more time with the secondary story than the main one. I liked the fact, Don and Mattie's touching and the timeless story took center stage, as well as their background history. Rose’s life intersected perfectly, without taking away from the couple's journey.
For fans of Nicholas Sparks, Fredrik Backman, Debbie Macomber, Joanne Demaio, Sally Hepworth, Zoe Fishman, and Charles Martin.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.
March Top 20 Reads
“Viola Shipman has written a graceful, touching novel that explores the temporal nature of life, and teaches us that even as we look back to sort through our personal histories, so we must look forward to find solace, power--and, yes, hope--in the future. A moving, emotionally impactful read.” ―Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of A Sudden Light and The Art of Racing in The Rain
"[The Hope Chest] demonstrates the enduring power of love and kindness...a good choice for fans of gentle, heartwarming fiction." ―Booklist
"Saugatuck, MI, springs to life in this nostalgic, gentle story of lifelong love along with the emotional support and care that families and friends can provide." ―Library Journal
About the Author
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. Read More