The Charm Bracelet: A Novel

The Charm Bracelet: A Novel

by Viola Shipman


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The Indie Next List Bestseller

Lose yourself to the magic of The Charm Bracelet.

Through an heirloom charm bracelet, three women will rediscover the importance of family and a passion for living as each charm changes their lives.

On her birthday each year, Lolly’s mother gave her a charm, along with the advice that there is nothing more important than keeping family memories alive, and so Lolly’s charm bracelet would be a constant reminder of that love.

Now seventy and starting to forget things, Lolly knows time is running out to reconnect with a daughter and granddaughter whose lives have become too busy for Lolly or her family stories.

But when Arden, Lolly’s daughter, receives an unexpected phone call about her mother, she and granddaughter Lauren rush home. Over the course of their visit, Lolly reveals the story behind each charm on her bracelet, and one by one the family stories help Lolly, Arden, and Lauren reconnect in a way that brings each woman closer to finding joy, love, and faith.

A compelling story of three women and a beautiful reminder of the preciousness of family, Viola Shipman's The Charm Bracelet is a keepsake you’ll cherish long after the final page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250235640
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/16/2019
Series: The Heirloom Novels
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 711,744
Product dimensions: 5.39(w) x 8.29(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

Viola Shipman is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write The Charm Bracelet, 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.

Read an Excerpt

The Charm Bracelet

By Viola Shipman, Cameron MacLeod Jones

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Viola Shipman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8248-5


May 2014 — Arden

Arden Lindsey realized too late that she was shouting.

She got up and slammed the door to her office at Paparazzi magazine, fuming over the terribly written article just submitted by her youngest online staff writer.

Beyoncérocked her "recently unpregnant stomach" with sushi?!

Are you kidding me?

Simóne was always more interested in champagne and backup dancers than writing bubbly headlines and flowing sentences.

"And how many times can you use some form of the word 'sing'?" Arden continued to yell. "Sing? Sang? Song? Singer? Songstress?"

Arden took a deep breath.

"And could you even attempt to code the article for the website?" she mumbled to herself.

Arden plopped back into her chair, the momentum causing her black bob to swing in front of her face and her thick, black eyeglass frames to bounce on the bridge of her nose.

She removed her glasses, closed her eyes, and rubbed her temples. She could already feel the dull thump of a headache approaching even before it arrived, just like the vibrating tracks of the El train that ran outside the hip River North warehouse offices of Paparazzi magazine announced the train's arrival.

You can't stop this train, either, Arden thought, pulling two ibuprofen from her bag as the El suddenly roared by her window.

Arden popped the pills into her mouth and drained the remnants of her latte. She inhaled deeply, attempting to channel her inner yogi, pushing her glasses high onto her nose and positioning her fingers over her Mac like a trained pianist.

Behind the Scenes with Beyonc[ACUTE "e"]! (Only [ITALIC "Paparazzi"] Was There!)

By Simóne Jaffe


Are you ready to party, single ladies, because [CELEBRITY_LINK "Beyonc[ACUTE "e"]"] is!


The pop diva, who will perform her [LINK "Mrs. Carter Show"] Friday and Saturday at the [LINK "United Center"], held a private bash at [LINK "Sunda"] to celebrate her arrival in [LINK "Chicago"], where she dined on sushi and saki with [BUSINESS LINKS "hubby"] [CELEBRITY_LINK "Jay-Z"] and celeb BFF's [CELEBRITY_LINK "Gwyneth Paltrow"] and [CELEBRITY_LINK "Alicia Keys"].

When Arden Lindsey was in a zone like this, it was as if her soul had suddenly left her body and now hovered over her watching from above with the exposed ductwork and the wood beams of the drafty warehouse ceiling.

She could see her hands fly across the top row of her keyboard, using keys few ever touched.

Brackets and parentheses, number signs and ampersands.

Arden had a job few even realized existed.

Arden spent her day editing and rewriting, creating search engine optimization, click-throughs, coding, links, all the things that nobody considered when they read the magazine from their laptop, iPad, or cell, but which made advertisers happy and made Paparazzi the most searched celebrity website in the world.

Arden began to click through the pictures that Paparazzi's photographer had sent at dawn: Beyoncé hugging Gwyneth. Jay-Z in shades. Impossibly tall Kimora in high heels.

Of course, Simóne was stunning, too.

Simóne looked like she belonged in the pages of Paparazzi: Lush, dark hair, pale skin with emerald eyes, exotic yet accessible, a sort of step -Kardashian. In person, Simóne was maybe five feet tall, perhaps a hundred pounds. But in photos, she looked like a star.

And she acted like one, too. She could chat with celebs in a way that made her seem as if she belonged in their inner circle. She could get them to say things after a few drinks.

That is, if she remembered to take notes, Arden thought.

As Arden studied the pictures, she suddenly caught her own image in the reflection of her laptop screen, her pale face and dull dress juxtaposed against the beauty of Alicia Keys and Kelly Rowland.

She stared more closely at Kelly Rowland's hair, studying it, wondering if her sleek mane was actually a wig.

Now, that's a good wig, Mother, she chuckled, remembering the embarrassing wigs her own mother wore to entertain tourists in her resort hometown.

[PHOTO CODE: "TZQ189&04L"]

Arden gave the article one final review, then uploaded it to, a stunning photo of Beyoncé and Gwyneth hugging the top of the page under a red banner that danced and screamed, "BREAKING NEWS!"

Arden picked up her coffee cup and arced it into her trash can. She stood and walked over to her eighth-floor window, which offered a peek — between the elevated tracks of the train and the high-rises around her — of Lake Michigan.

It was a beautiful, mid-May day, and the sunlight turned the surface of the water into a kaleidoscope.

Arden watched the deep green waves rock the boats dotting the lakeshore.

She had grown up on Lake Michigan, seemingly a million miles away — "on the other side," as Chicagoans sometimes referred to their Michigan counterparts.

It was only one lake, but it was, truly, a "great" lake to Arden, and it had seemed to separate her from the rest of the world when she was a kid.

"I can't smell salt," LA and New York celebrities would always say when they visited Chicago. Or, "You mean you can't see the other side?" — unable to comprehend the vastness and freshness of Lake Michigan.

"Nice job on the Beyoncé story."

Arden turned at the sound of her boss's voice.

"Thanks," she said to Van, noting his Zac Efron hair and bow tie.

"Online a couple of minutes, and it's already gotten a few thousand views," he said. "Jay-Z already texted me to thank us for adding all the links to his corporate ventures. We do a great job, don't we?"

We? You may be the editor of, and we may cover the royals every single day, but that still doesn't give you the right to use the "royal we" in regard to my work, Arden thought.

"Yes," Arden said, instead. It was all she could do to keep from rolling her eyes.

She hesitated.

"Is there a chance you'd let me cover her after-party tomorrow night?"

"Sounds like a great idea, but we need you here," Van said, smiling, in the same sweetly condescending way her ex-husband used to speak to her when she talked about writing her novel.

Even a decade later, Arden still couldn't believe that her ex fought with her about everything — writing, money, the news — everything except for his own daughter. In the end, he didn't even fight for custody. He didn't want Arden. He didn't want Lauren. His iciness had frozen Arden, paralyzed her ability to stand up to him and, as a result, she walked away with little financial support. Now, her ex had a new family, a new wife and a new life without them.

"How would we survive without you?" Van asked.

Arden smiled at the irony of his question, before turning to look out the window in an attempt to hide her disappointment and frustration.

"Let Simóne do that," he continued. "She lives for that sort of stuff. She's going to be our next feature writer anyway."

Arden winced, as if her boss had suddenly walked over and slapped her. Out of habit, she tugged at her earlobe, a quirk that had started years ago watching The Carol Burnett Show with her mom. It had morphed into a nervous habit when she first went to kindergarten and was too scared to leave her mom.

"Just tug your earlobe like Carol," Lolly had told her outside the classroom door. "It's your silent way to tell me — and yourself — that everything is going to be all right."

Arden kept her back to Van until she could hear him walk away. Van was — what? — a decade her junior and her seventh boss in the last decade? They all came and went, like pretty toy soldiers, putting in their time until the New York office called them up, or they landed at People,EW, or Entertainment Tonight.

No one wants to be a writer anymore, they want to be a celebrity, just like the ones they cover, Arden sighed.


Arden heard a loud plop, and turned to find a mountain of mail already sliding across her desk. She walked over and began to rifle through it.

"Same ol', same ol'," she said, shuffling through press releases and early samples of celeb perfumes. A return address on a padded envelope caught Arden's eye, and her pulse quickened. Arden's desk began to rumble, and as she looked out her window to see the El screech by again, its tracks shaking violently, she could feel her headache begin anew.

Arden picked up the puffy package and nabbed a pair of scissors from a Paparazzi coffee mug on her desk to cut it open.

A little card came tumbling out.

Arden's heart leaped into her throat. Her mother's beautiful handwriting was no longer the looping, expressive cursive of her youth. Instead, it was jagged, slanted, hunched.

She read the card:


But I don't want to go among mad people.


Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here.

How's the writing going, my dear?

Remember, we all must go a little CRAZY sometimes to find our happiness.

Hope you can visit this summer. I miss you and love you with all my heart!

All my love to Lorna Lauren.


Arden's heart began to beat in her temples, then in her eyes.

Lorna? Oh, Mom, Arden said to herself, seeing her mother's mistake. How could you get your own granddaughter's name wrong?

Arden picked up the envelope and turned it upside down. A little box rolled across her desk. She popped it open and sitting atop a velvet throne was a silver charm of the Mad Hatter.

"Alice in Wonderland!" Arden smiled. "My favorite book!"

Arden studied the charm, placing it in her palm and rubbing her fingers over it.

Still with the charms, Mom? Still believe they're somehow magical?

She thought of her mother's charm bracelet, thick with charms, the one she never removed, the one that drove Arden crazy growing up with its incessant jangling.

How long has it been since Lauren and I have been home to Michigan? Where does time go? Arden felt a tinge of guilt and then her laptop dinged.

Deadlines. That's where.

Arden picked up the card and reread it.

"Hope you can visit this summer."

Her mother rarely asked for anything, much less a visit. Visiting home was tough for Arden, a lot like, well, Alice falling down the rabbit hole. It had not been easy for Arden growing up in small-town America. She had been an awkward kid, and it had not been easy having a mother like Lolly Lindsey.

"It's not that she's a bad person," Arden said to the charm, as if it were a therapist. "It's just that she's ..."

"Debbie Reynolds!"

Yes! Exactly!

Bigger than life. Always on stage, Arden thought.


Arden jumped and turned to find Van standing in her doorway, his blue bow tie adorned with yellow boats twitching around his neck.

Wait. I didn't say that? she realized.

"Debbie Reynolds is dating a twenty-five-year-old! Story's coming now! We have an exclusive. We'll need it online in less than fifteen minutes!"

"Of course," Arden nodded. Van was already walking away when she called, "But when I'm done, I think I'll take an early lunch, if that's okay. I need a little fresh air."

Van stopped, moonwalked back three steps, and checked his watch, before shooting a finger at Arden.

"Sure thing. We need you fresh. But it's still too early. Make it a late lunch, okay? We have a lot happening today. No plans tonight, right? Or this weekend? That promotion to web news director is still up in the air ...," Van added.

Arden opened her mouth to respond, but Van was gone.


May 2014 — Lauren

Pablo Picasso once said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."

Lauren set down the quote she kept framed on her dorm desk and stared at her MacBook, her econ notes blurring in front of her eyes.

A warm breeze raced through the window of Lauren's dorm room and tousled her blond hair.

She inhaled deeply, the smell of Lake Michigan and the approaching summer air filling her lungs and her room, that sweet perfume of flowers and fresh water, newly cut grass and warmth, that smell of ... hope.

She heard playful screams outside and stood, leaning over her desk to study the scene: Her dorm on Northwestern University's campus looked out at the lake and student beach. Even though the breeze off the water was still a bit chilly, boys played Frisbee without shirts and girls in bikini tops soaked up some rays.

There was something about the simple scene, of her fellow students enjoying a day free of care, which caused Lauren to stand, yank off her purple Wildcat hoodie, and walk over to the painting easel she had perched by her desk.

She lifted her brush.

"Ice cream!"

Lauren jumped, as her roommate twirled into the room like a tornado, dark curly hair flying, carrying two ice cream cones.

"I thought we could use these," Lexie said, speaking even faster than her typical New York style, "between being stuck inside studying for finals on this gorgeous day and ... well, I just found out Josh is playing me again."

"What?" Lauren nabbed the ice cream from her roommate with one hand and wagged her paintbrush at Lexie with the other. "What did he do this time?"

"I found out that he's taking Grace to see Beyoncé at the United Center this weekend!"

Lexie licked her cone. "He was supposed to take me!" she said. Her shoulders drooped. "It was supposed to be our last big date before we go home for the summer."

"Dump the loser," Lauren said, setting down her brush. "Now!"

Lexie continued to lick her cone, when her brown eyes widened. Lauren knew instantly: Her roommate had a plan.

"Can't your mom get us tickets to the concert?" she begged. "So we can spy on him?"

Lauren rolled her eyes, took a big bite of her ice cream, and then took a seat on her bed. "She could, technically. But you know she'd never ask. That's so not her."

"I can't believe your mother works for Paparazzi and never uses any of those connections."

"She just would never take such a risk. I'm sure she's covering the concert ... from her office," Lauren said, then added, "Lexie, you need to forget about him. He's not good for you."

Lexie stood, holding her half-eaten cone in her mouth, and began to text.

"Done!" she said a few seconds later.

"So romantic," Lauren said, and then began to laugh at her roommate. "By the way, you realize you look like a pregnant kangaroo, right?"

Lexie looked down at her distended belly and laughed, nearly choking on the cone still in her mouth.

"I foo-got," she mumbled through the ice cream, reaching into the overstuffed pocket of her hoodie to unleash a flood of envelopes and packages onto her bed. "Here. Mail."

Lauren finished her cone, walked over, and began to rifle through the mail scattered across her roommate's bed.

With each envelope she opened, her heart closed a little bit more: Notices for internships at Fortune 500 businesses and banks, schedules for on-campus interviews, alerts for job fairs. It was late in the year, and she had ignored every notice. And had yet to tell her mother she was without an internship or job for the summer.

Lauren sighed. "I can't deal with this," she said, ducking her head, her blond locks cascading over her face.

"That's not going to block out the future," Lexie said. "Why don't you just tell your mom you're not happy about your major?"

"You've met her," Lauren said. "Happy hasn't been an important part of the equation in her life for a while now."

"If you're unhappy now," Lexie said, "just imagine how you're going to feel in twenty years."

Lauren sighed.

"Hey, what's that?" Lexie suddenly asked, pointing at a padded manila envelope on her purple NU comforter.

The envelope had Lauren's name on it, but she didn't recognize the labored handwriting at first, until she saw the Michigan return address.

"Grandma!" Lauren said, happily tearing open the envelope to find a card and a little box.

"I bet I know what it is." Lexie laughed, flopping onto her bed. "Open it."

Lauren popped open the little box to find a silver charm of a hot air balloon.

"Read it," Lexie urged.

Lauren smiled, thinking of Lolly. She adored her grandmother — her crazy wigs, her carefree attitude, her love of nature, her fiery spirit.

Lauren opened the card and began to read, her voice becoming emotional the more she read:

This charm is to a life filled with adventure!

Remember ... YOLO!



"She knows 'You Only Live Once'?" Lexie asked, opening her laptop before stopping as her voice cracked. "Your grandmother is so thoughtful. I miss my grandma. I loved her so much."

Lauren rubbed her roommate's shoulder, Lexie's words resonating deeply. "She is still with you," Lauren said.

"I know," Lexie said, biting her lip, before changing the subject. "Econ final. I guess it's time, isn't it?"

Lauren gave her charm a little kiss, before carefully adding the hot air balloon to her charm bracelet. She walked to her desk and placed Lolly's card next to her Picasso quote, running her fingers over her grandmother's writing. She looked over at Lexie and thought of what it would be like to lose her own grandmother.

Is she seventy now? Is that even possible? Lauren wondered.

Lauren looked up and studied her litany of academic, artistic, and athletic accomplishments lining the wall and sighed.


Excerpted from The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman, Cameron MacLeod Jones. Copyright © 2016 Viola Shipman. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Prologue: The Half-Heart Charm,
I. The Hot Air Balloon Charm,
II. The Dragonfly Charm,
III. The Sewing Machine Charm,
IV. The Kite Charm,
V. The Puzzle Piece Charm,
VI. The Loon Charm,
VII. The Ice Cream Cone Charm,
VIII. The Snowflake Charm,
IX. The Shooting Star Charm,
X. The Mustard Seed Charm,
XI. The Tiara Charm,
Epilogue: The Book Charm,
About the Author,

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The Charm Bracelet: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was able to relate to this story, as I have collected charms to tell of my life. I have also given charms to my daughter and grandaughter. My mother had demetia, and I did use my charms to recall the family vacations. THE CHARM BRACELET made me laugh and cry. I loved how the story was interwoven with the charms and handed down to connect each generation and bring healing. Looking forward to another novel by this author.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The concept is great and there are sweet moments and likeable characters. But there was a lot of far-fetched elements, the love connectoon forced, the beauty pageant unrealistic... Seems like the author tried to make too many things happen in a short period of time. I would give it 2 1/2 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like Hallmark Channel movies you'll love this. Too corny for my taste. And a bit sexist as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was a story of 3 generations. A charm bracelet that told a story of life. Around 264 pages on the nook. R.G
nolenreads More than 1 year ago
This is a sweet story about how much a charm bracelet transformed a family. The author used the charm bracelet to tell the stories of each character and then weaves each story into the bigger story of a daughter learning to deal with personal tragedy in order to care for the rest of her family.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman is set in Scoops, Michigan. Lolly Lindsey has the beginning of dementia. She knows that this will be her last chance to tell her stories and family history to her family. Arden, Lolly’s daughter, gets a call about her mother from a neighbor. Arden and her daughter, Laurel hurry back to Scoops to check on Lolly. This is Lolly’s chance to spend time with her busy daughter and granddaughter. Lolly tells her story via the charms on her charm bracelet. Each charm represents a special event or time in her life. Each charm is a story and has a life lesson. Lolly wants to pass along to Arden and Lindsey about living life to its fullest and enjoying each day. Can Lolly change Arden’s and Lindsey’s perspective (and what is most important) on life? Come join Lolly, Arden, and Laurel on a journey towards a better life. The Charm Bracelet was sweet story. I give The Charm Bracelet 2.5 out of 5 stars. It was passable, but not riveting (engrossing or engaging). It is a story that has been told before and has a predictable outcome. The writing is satisfactory, and the characters (for the most part) are relatable (especially Arden). But there is something off (did not feel right or seem right about the female characters). I did not discover it until after I finished the book (I wanted to see what other people were saying about the book). The author is not a woman and it explains so much. I finished The Charm Bracelet, but I did a lot of skimming (speed reading) to finish it. If you are looking for a light summer read, then you will enjoy The Charm Bracelet. I received a complimentary copy of The Charm Bracelet from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.
BuckeyeAngel More than 1 year ago
Arden worked for Paparazzi magazine which was the most searched celebrity website in the world. Arden edited and rewrote items for the magazine. But in her heart she had wanted to write a book but her ex husband shot that down and she never finished it. He harassed her so much the divorce settlement was a joke. Van was Arden’s boss and liked to take credit for Arden’ work. Lauren was Arden’s daughter was Lauren and she was just finishing up a year of college. She wanted to be an artist and she was really good originally how she got in college but was trying to be practical for her mom’s sake and was going for a business degree as she had found out how her father had left her mom in a financial mess and this way she could help her mom crawl out of debt. Maybe then when that was accomplished she could paint. Lauren loved her grandmother dearly even though her Mom had a strained relationship with her mom Lolly. Lauren talks her mom into going up to see her grandma for Memorial day weekend. While there Arden learns her mom has MCI which centers on memory loss and possibly dementia in the end. Arden just doesn’t know what to do. I loved this story it was really good. A story of three generations of women and their struggles with the realities of life. I loved the characters and all the ins and outs they go through. I recommend. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I remember requesting this book a few months ago after reading the blurb and crossing my fingers. I was just hoping that I got it. I have a charm bracelet and when I can, I add to it, different charms as memories. I have always loved that idea. When I received notice that I was approved, I literally jumped up in the air. I was so excited. Yesterday when I moved my March publications over to my reading list, I saw this book. This was the first one I read even though it wasn't due until the end of the month. I just couldn't wait. And, the book did not fail one bit. I LOVED this book!!! It was everything I hoped and more. Oh the emotions, you will definitely need tissues for this one. And, Lolly she is quite the character. I want to just go up and give her a great big hug and let her know just how good she made me feel. Crazy or not, I just love her. I don't want to leave this book. I went to sleep thinking about them and woke up and couldn't wait to get back to them. Now, what will I do? Such a great story with great characters. I highly recommend this book to everyone! A great big HUGE thanks to St. Martin's Press for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. I can't say enough good things about this fantabulous read!!!
CatmomJD More than 1 year ago
A mentally stimulating story that pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very end. Everyone in Scoops Michigan loves Lolly Lindsey. The tourists flock to the resort town to watch her perform her show as Dolly at the ice cream shop. But what most don’t realize is Lolly is losing her memory. A call to her workaholic daughter Arden prompts her return home for a visit and check up on her mother. Lauren, Arden’s daughter, also makes the trip. The story flashes back and forth between the past and present day as Lolly tells the story of each charm on her bracelet. Each has a significant meaning and Arden and Lauren’s lives are changed when they finally give in and listen to what Lolly has to say about living life and learning to take risks to find their true happiness. This is one of those books that will stay with you for a long time after you finish reading it. I can honestly say this is the best book that I have read so far this year. If you are looking for something incredibly touching and inspirational, you need to read this book.
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
Such a sweet book - it brought me to tears several times with its tenderness and insight. I think it's a book that will touch many hearts. This one is a real keeper. It was so precious. What wonderful thoughts throughout.