The Wishing Bridge
by Viola Shipman
Publisher: Graydon House
Release Date: November 7, 2023
Reviewed by PJ
Once the hottest mergers and acquisitions executive in the company, Henrietta Wegner can see the ambitious and impossibly young up-and-comers gunning for her job. When Henri’s boss makes it clear she’ll be starting the New Year unemployed unless she can close a big deal before the holidays, Henri impulsively tells him that she can convince her aging parents to sell Wegner’s—their iconic Frankenmuth, Michigan, Christmas store—to a massive, soulless corporation. It’s the kind of deal cool, corporate Henri has built her career on.
Home for the holidays has typically meant a perfunctory twenty-four-hour visit for Henri, then back to Detroit as fast as her car will drive her. So turning up at the Wegner’s offices in early December raises some eyebrows: from her delighted, if puzzled, parents to her suspicious brother and curious childhood friends. But as Henri fields impatient texts from her boss while reconnecting with the magic of the store and warmth of her hometown, what sounded great in the boardroom begins to lose its luster in real life. She’s running out of time to pull the trigger on what could be the greatest success of her career…or the most awkward family holiday of her life.
Just in time for the holidays, Shipman brings readers a new novel about family, dreams, moral crossroads, and second chances. Shipman has a knack for bringing the small towns of Michigan to life through the pages of his books, immersing me in their traditions, challenges, warmth, and clear-eyed scrutiny. Nobody, but nobody, can open your eyes to your own flaws - or make you feel like a guilty grade-schooler - better than someone who watched you grow up in your small hometown. Something our corporate hot-shot on the verge of losing her job learns when she unexpectedly comes home for Christmas, with less than honorable intentions.
With a deft hand, and echoes of Ebeneezer Scrooge, Shipman guides Henri on a journey of self-discovery that will determine the trajectory of the rest of her life...as well as the relationship between her and her family. It's not an easy journey. She walks a tight line between villainy and redemption and even though I was rooting for her to do the right thing, I admit there were times when I didn't like her much. But, each time I found myself feeling that way, the author would give us another glimpse of the conflict in her mind, the love in her heart, and the goodness in her soul, and I found myself pulling for her again. She's flawed. She's human. Aren't we all?
Surrounding Henri is a hug-worthy cast of characters who brought the town of Frankenmuth to life and the spirit of Christmas to my heart. I want to be friends with all of them. Okay, not Henri's boss or her backstabbing colleague, but the rest of them. I want to grab a pint with them at Prost, share dinner at Z's Chicken Haus, tell Santa my Christmas wishes at Wegner's Winter Wonderland (you really are never too old to believe), and join the town for a quiet rendition of Silent Night under a snow-laced covered bridge while celebrating a second chance for two people who never stopped loving one another.
These characters made me laugh, they brought me to tears more than once, they reminded me of the importance of connection, of dreams, of family, and of love. And, they filled my heart with the joy and spirit of the season.
What fills your heart with joy this time of year?
Have you read any Viola Shipman books?
In this book, Henri makes divinity, a candy she learned at her grandmother's knee. Do you have a special recipe you make over the holidays that's been handed down through generations of your family? Or, a recipe you're handing down to younger generations?
One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, November 13 will receive a signed print copy of The Wishing Bridge.
*Must be 18