Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Hope Chest: A Novel by Viola Shipman ~ My Thoughts


The Hope Chest: A Novel

The Hope Chest: A Novel by Viola Shipman
Print and e-book, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 21st 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books

Viola Shipman's 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.


My thoughts about The Hope Chest ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first lines.)

First line—"I think that's about the last box, sweetheart. Do you need a few minutes alone to say goodbye?"

Oh my gosh! This is such a touching, beautiful story filled with loving people reliving some of their most wonderful memories.

Mattie has ALS and knows the end of her life is coming. She and her husband hire a caretaker to help out. Little did they know that Rose and her young daughter, Jeri would come to play such an important role in her remaining days. 

As they pull items from Mattie's hope chest one by one, Mattie and Don relive their lives through these treasured memories. I loved learning about their lives and the memories that each thing had attached to it, memories that were full of love and happy times. As they recalled the importance of these special pieces in their live, they passed their life lessons onto Rose and Jeri.  

This is one of the more touching scenes in the book and it essentially sums up the whole story—"Everything in here has a story and a history, Rose thought. Each of these heirlooms has taught me something not only about Mattie and her family, but also about herself. They are living lessons."

This is an amazing story and I was equally enchanted by this author's previous book, The Charm Bracelet. You can read my thoughts here

I received copy of this book from NetGalley am voluntarily reviewing it.

About the author

Viola Shipman

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 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.

For more about the author, please visit Wade Rouse’s official website

Connect with Viola

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