Something From Tiffany’s was Melissa Hill’s last book – and a bestseller – and The Charm Bracelet, released in May this year, has a similarly jewellery-based theme. I have never owned a charm bracelet but have admired those of friends in the past, wondering what each of the individual charms might represent. It is a wonderful theme for a romantic novel, and Melissa Hill does it justice.
Holly O’Neil is a single mother living in New York with her ten-year-old son Danny. She works in a vintage clothes shop called ‘The Secret Closet’, where designer clothes and accessories are sent in by members of the New York High Society to be sold for charity or a commission. She loves her job and is content with her life with Danny, her tiny flat and her close circle of friends. The only thing she worries about is Danny growing up without a father figure. She broke up with Nick before Danny was born, and he only sees his son occasionally.
Greg Matthews is no longer content. Having worked for years in a very well paid city job, he decides he’s had enough of his office cubicle and that following his dream of being a photographer is more important than his comfortable lifestyle. He is sure his girlfriend Karen will be completely supportive.
The story begins to unfold when Holly discovers a charm bracelet in a pocket of a jacket sent in to the ‘The Secret Closet.’ Holly has her own charm bracelet, so she understands what it must mean to the owner and how much it is being missed. Unfortunately, the box of clothes came in from an unknown, unnamed sender. Holly embarks on a journey to track down the owner of the bracelet.
The story moves between the present day lives of Holly and Greg, the past memories of Holly as she remembers receiving each charm for her own bracelet, and similar important moments in the life of the anonymous owner of the found bracelet, as Holly uses the individual charms to try and track them down.
The characters are realistic and (most of them) loveable, and it is incredibly easy to get caught up in Holly’s search, to grin or grimace as she gets breakthroughs or hits dead ends. I could feel the chill and magic of pre-Christmas New York despite reading this during one of the hottest weeks of the year.
I loved The Charm Bracelet. It was so much more than a romance novel. It was a wonderful story about love and hope and the strength found in families. The charm bracelets and the beautiful vintage clothes that Holly sells show how objects can hold memories and have meaning, and they also provided a richness to the book - I could picture each dress and intricate charm as it was described.
As Holly and Greg’s lives begin to cross in a Serendipity-esque way, the pace builds and more questions are raised: Not just who the owner of the mysterious bracelet is, but who has been sending Holly charms for all these years, and will Greg’s romantic gesture pay off? The answers are revealed one by one, and there is a twist in the tale that I did not see coming AT ALL!
I have a couple of tiny niggles about this book. I felt that some of the characters could have been developed a bit more – Holly’s best friend Kate, her mother Eileen and Jessica, who Holly enlists to help her with her quest. I wanted to know more about their own stories. I also really, really wanted to be able to read beyond the final page! What happens next? Both my niggles are a testament to how much I enjoyed The Charm Bracelet, and how good I think a sequel would be. Melissa…?