Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman

Product DetailsThe multi-generational story of a grandmother, mother, and daughter found in Viola Shipman's debut novel THE CHARM BRACELET is one of finding reconciliation, love, and self.  When Arden, a work alcoholic single mother trying to earn enough money to meet the next college tuition payment for her daughter Lauren, receives a call about her 70 year old mother Lolly's health, Arden decides she needs to make a trip to Scoops, MI and visit mom.  What starts out to be a Memorial Day weekend visit becomes a life changing time of re-connection, shared dreams, and new starts for all of them.  Arden and Lauren learns that Lolly has developed MCI, mild cognitive impairment, which has started to affect her ability to work and live on her own.  Lolly, whose outlandish dress and wigs, and even her notoriety as the ice cream lady as the tourist town's fudge shop, has always embarrassed Arden, takes her diagnosis as an opportunity to share her slice of life wisdom with the two people she loves most. Using her beloved charm bracelet, started years ago by a mother who died too young, Lolly tells story after story, each one delivering a heart warming message.  Bit by bit Arden begins to see her mom in a different light, and granddaughter Lauren gains courage enough to share her dreams with the two older women.

Using various charms as symbols for the lessons is quite effective, but it also seems a bit contrived at times.  At times Lolly seemed to see an actual power in the charms, not a symbolism, and I did not care for that.  I did like the simple backdrop of the Lake Michigan shore and the nearby smaller Lost Lake.  While I am more familiar with the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan, this Michigan setting was just as appealing.  I could close my eyes, see the Northern Lights along the shoreline, and then smell the fresh fudge as tourists flooded  the candy shop.  Like many other books and movies, that contrast between the slower pace of small town and big city Chicago is sharp and life-defining. Too often writers make the small town setting too idyllic, Shipman wisely has shown that  while Scoops/Lost Lake bring the women closer together, it is not a place that entirely protects them from loss or pain.   Perhaps the greatest lesson or main theme of the book is summed up in  Lolly's words as she watches her daughter and granddaughter experience the Northern Lights on a warm May night, "The amazing beauty of life and family... if only we take the time to see it and cherish it."  The book also makes such an important point that one's stories -- our loves, our disappointments, our heart aches, our victories, our faith, each helped make us who we are, and if we wish to be remembered, then we must share the memories that define us.  Whether it be a journal, photo albums, recorded messages, face to face talks, or taking a road trip together, we should share with our families before it is too late.

THE CHARM BRACELET, which has quickly become a best seller in Europe and here in the US, is the first in a series of "heirloom" novels that Wade Rouse is writing under the pseudonym Viola Shipman.  Each book features a heirloom; this one Lolly's charm bracelet.  The next novel features an antique trunk; each story is inspired by Shipman's (Rouse's) own extended family.  I enjoyed Shipman's writing enough that I plan to read the next novel.  I obtained a copy of this novel from our library system. 

No comments:

Post a Comment