This book is: a memoir about a strong woman and her jewelry.
Other elements: airplanes, divorce, family dynamics, marriage, jewelry, being a woman.
Read it: if you love (or even like) jewelry and stories about inspirational women.
Overall rating: 8.75/10
I believed wholeheartedly in the transformative power of jewelry–how it made me feel more regal and glamorous, changing me from a shy, ordinary girl into a shimmering princess from a faraway land. – Page 7
I was pretty sure I would like this book (because: jewelry) but I didn’t realize I was going to love this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect overall and I was little concerned about the “searching for a band of gold” part of the subtitle – the world doesn’t need another book about how a woman need to be married in order to be fulfilled.
It turns out that my fears were not only unfounded, they were pretty much the opposite of what this book is about. My Charmed Life is no sappy chick flick in memoir form. It tells the story of a brave, determined woman who finds the strength in herself to forge ahead in life and build her dream career, all while suffering through a string of unsatisfactory romantic relationships.
Beth’s voice is blunt, honest, and captivating. Throughout the journey of her life, she grows up from being the little girl who taped pretty pieces of paper to her ears to the young adult with a knack for encountering unfortunate men and finally to the woman who stands on her own two feet and has the confidence to buy herself her dream jewelry rather than waiting around for Mr. Right to come do it for her.
Beth’s stack of diamond and platinum eternity bands. She had the topmost made from diamonds that were originally in a pendant that her father gave to her mother.
As for the jewelry: what I was most struck by was the way Beth attaches different meaning to the pieces of jewelry in her life, especially those pieces that are connected to her family history. I am a strong proponent of attaching meaning to jewelry and I loved Beth’s way of setting out her life story based on the pieces that mattered the most to her when she was different versions of herself.
Beth’s father presented her mother with this Art Deco diamond watch in lieu of a traditional engagement ring.
One of my favorite moments was Beth’s description of her great-grandmother’s opal and diamond brooch. This piece was passed down through the generations and each new owner had the jewels reset; maintaining the materials of the family heirloom while having it restyled to fit the personality of the current wearer. I thought that was beautiful and a poignant metaphor for family relationships.
Beth and I also have rather a lot in common, which probably accounts for some of the strength of my connection to the book. We’re both descended from New England Jews who came from Russia, both prone to getting sick/injured, both afraid of flying, both used to mitigate our fears of flying by wearing lucky jewelry for air travel, both have lifelong dreams of writing but can’t quite shake an obsession with jewelry. In other words: Beth, if you’re ever in DC, we should hang out.
This is the spectacular diamond, 18K yellow and white gold Buccellati ring featured in the final chapter of the book. I’m not going to tell you this ring’s significance, you have to read it and find out for yourself.
Come back on Thursday for a post on Beth’s most recent work in jewelry, the Estate of Grace Collection. It’s fabulous.
All images and info in this post are thanks to Communique L.A. and Beth Bernstein.
I did receive this book free of charge, but my opinions are my own. Thanks to Communique L.A. and Beth Bernstein for this enjoyable read.