Book Review: The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman

Book Review: The Charm Bracelet by Viola ShipmanThe Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman
Published by St. Martin’s Press on March 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, General
Pages: 304
Buy on Amazon

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.


I had never heard of Viola Shipman before seeing this book but the cover of the book looked pretty cute and I was curious to see what was inside. I was pretty surprised to learn that Viola Shipman was a pen name for Wade Rouse, who is a popular, award-winning memoirist. From what I understand, Mr. 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.


Now on to the book itself. The three main characters in The Charm Bracelet are Lolly, the matriarch of the family, her daughter, Arden, and Arden’s daughter Lauren. The stories of the bracelets (grandmother, mother, daughter all have their own) and the individual charms on them seek to solidify the fact that there is nothing in life more important than family.  

Lolly lives in the family cabin on Lost Land Lake, which is the same place where her mother gave her the very first charm for her bracelet and begins the story and connects us to her past. Lolly is aging and begins to suffer from forgetfulness and she wants to connect with Arden and Lauren before it is too late, but time is running out.

The story is told through several generations and time periods and flows smoothly between all of them. The story starts in July of 1953 and Lolly is sharing Fourth of July with her mother who gives her a half a heart charm for her bracelet after she repeats “their” 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.”

We learn why Lolly has never left Scoops, Michigan and her life journey. We also learn about Arden, who is Lolly’s “workaholic” daughter who couldn’t get out of town quick enough – left small town life for Chicago, married and then divorced. Finally, we get to meet Lauren, who is Arden’s daughter who is a business major secretly wishing she could pursue what she’s talented at, and that is painting. Lauren is slowly dying inside and doesn’t know how to tell her mother the truth about how she wishes to change her course of study.

As Lolly begins the slow descent of her memory, she shares the stories with her daughter and granddaughter that she has always told, but this time, the women are listening, and learning the lessons that each story teaches. As the women share time together, there is hope, honesty and healing.

It was really neat learning about all of the charms on her bracelet, their meaning in Dolly’s life and her life experiences. I loved that at the very core of these women, the story of the charms and their love of Dolly pulled them all together allowing them to make substantial changes in their lives – exactly what each of them needed in their lives.

A perfect book for a rainy day! I found it hard to put the book down because I just wanted to know about one more charm before putting the book down. It was a very touching read and wasn’t one of those heavy stories that can drag me down. I love “feel good” books every now and again that give me more faith in humanity and provide a relief from day-to-day drudgery of life.

I received an advanced readers digital copy of this book from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review and unbiased opinion. Thanks NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press!

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