The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman

The Hope Chest by Viola ShipmanThe Hope Chest by Viola Shipman
Published by St. Martin’s Press on March 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Women, Family Life, Fiction
Pages: 320

From the beloved author of Indie Next Pick The Charm Bracelet, a story about an heirloom hope chest and the connection it inspires among three people in need of hope.

The discovery of one woman’s heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary.

But when Rose, Mattie’s new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple’s life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother.

With each item—including a favorite doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges.

A beautiful story about the unconditional love and support of family, The Hope Chest will remind you that hope can be found where and when you least expect it.

Back in March of 2016, I read and reviewed a great book called The Charm Bracelet by an author named Viola Shipman (see review HERE).  I had never heard of Viola Shipman before seeing The Charm Bracelet, but I was later surprised to learn that Viola Shipman was a pen name for Wade Rouse, who is a popular, award-winning memoirist.   That being said, I was really looking forward to more stories from Viola Shipman / Wade Rouse, so when I saw The Hope Chest, I knew I wanted to read it.

Mattie and Don are getting ready to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, but tragically Mattie is in the final stages of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Rose, who is hired as Mattie’s caretaker quickly becomes more of a family member and friend. Rose is a young, single mother struggling with her own battle of finances and the loss of her parents, while raising her daughter Jeri.  

Mattie begins to share her life stories with Rose and her young daughter, Jeri. The four of them become even closer and since Mattie and Don never had children of their own and Rose and Jeri have no other family since Rose’s parents died, their relationship grows stronger every day.

The key item to this story is a hope chest that Mattie received as an Easter gift from her parents when she was a young girl. Mattie has kept all of her keepsakes – everything memorable and especially dear to her over years in the chest – things like a vase, a snow globe, an apron, and other items. What I really enjoyed was that each part of the book is divided into sections about items in the chest, with a story attached to each item. The author was very descriptive in sharing the items in the hope chest that I could actually picture them as if I was in the room with them.

I will seriously give you this warning though: this is a sad book too as Mattie’s impending death hangs over every page. The more you come to know her, the harder it is knowing she is leaving. The good news is that the book doesn’t leave you full of sadness, but instead, gives you the feeling of love. The story also reminds readers that family isn’t always just your blood family but instead, it is the family of people who love you.

I highly recommend this book and suggest that each of you run to your local bookstore and buy  The Hope Chest (and a box of tissues). While you are there, you might as well pick up The Charm Bracelet too if you haven’t already read it.  For me – I will be watching for the next book, The Recipe Box, and hope the wait isn’t long.

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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