I loved the sound of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper when it came through the post. A widowed 69 (nearly 70) year old man who is taken out of routines by the discovery of a charm bracelet and subsequently goes off on a quest. I think spontaneity becomes harder as we get older and perhaps more entrenched in our routines with responsibilities and duties and even expectations… so I was looking forward to inspiration from Arthur 🙂
Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. On the anniversary of her death, he finally musters the courage to go through her possessions, and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before.
What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur from London to Paris and India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met, a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is published by MIRA (7 April 2016).
When we first meet Arthur, his routines make him not only feel safe but also that late wife Miriam is still a part of his life. When neighbour Bernadette rings his doorbell he hides and he doesn’t engage with any of the community activities. His adult children have their own lives – daughter Lucy has her own demons so although living close, isn’t as ‘present’ in mind as she is in body; Dan is living in Australia with his own family. Reflections throughout give the backstory to his relationship with Miriam, his children when they were younger and his working life.
After Arthur finds the charm bracelet we see him slowly transform into who he really is and in the beginning, those close to him are worried as he’s acting differently from the man they know. The people he meets on his quest and the experiences totally engaged me. They shake him out of his comfort zone and although on one level poignant, we see a change in Arthur. Not only does he learn some valuable lessons he also has words of wisdom to share which inspire and have the power to initiate change in others. I loved that.
It’s not all about Arthur’s quest to understand his wife. There are powerful healing scenes with his children in the present and also with Bernadette and her son too each bringing tears for me!
I thought the ending was cleverly executed leading me to believe one thing when it was actually something completely different.
If you regularly read my reviews you will know how much I enjoy a character’s development. What is unusual in The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is that of course, it’s a male character … and one who is older than we find in the majority of popular novels. I love it that Phaedra’s debut has Arthur as the focus drawing us into an older generation and empathising with his life and his emotions. We know the older generation are more affected by depression, isolation and loneliness than any other age group and I thought Phaedra’s writing reflected this perfectly. And Arthur is an inspiration to others who may be feeling the same way.
Read The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper to inspire you to take a look at your own life and add sparkle with spontaneity and new experiences. Just bare in mind when you’re reflecting that we may embellish memories making them different than they were …
Connect with Phaedra Patrick