The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper – Phaedra Patrick

“Would she want you to be sad?”

“No. But it’s hard.”

arthur pepper

Blurb: “Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30am, just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same grey slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his plant, Frederica, and heads out to his garden. But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as 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 hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Arthur Pepper is a man in his late sixties who is very much stuck in a rut. He gets up at the same time every day, eats breakfast at the same time every day, and constantly waters his plant. It’s coming up to the one year anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death and he struggles to separate his perceived memories from how she actually was, for example, he pictures her in certain clothes then goes through her wardrobes and thinks “Miriam would never wear this” even though she clearly did.

One day he finds a box and inside is a charm bracelet that he’s never seen before. Examining the charms he discovered that the elephant charm is engraved with the word “ayah” and a number. Research reveals that “ayah” is Indian for nurse and he calls the number. The phone is answered by a Mr Mehra who says Miriam was his child carer when he was a young boy and mistakes he made led to her leaving and he gave her the charm as an apology. Arthur never knew she had ever been to India let alone worked there so he finds himself wondering what stories the other charms hold. He finds links between the tiger charms and a lord living at Graystock Manor and so Arthur’s quest to discover more of his wife’s secret life continues.

I expect that to be the sole focus of this book but I received a lot more than I bargained for. In addition to the charm plot line, the subplots create more depth. You learn about Arthur’s estranged children, Dan and Lucy, and why they are just that. The characters Arthur meets who are linked to the charms are just so well written that they stand as potentially real people with their own complexities. They didn’t feel like they were just there as part of a series of events and left a lasting impact.

I found Arthur selfish at times such as a moment of reflection where the prose shows he never asked his wife about her life before they met because he “never expected her to have one” but he’s a man who had his life toppled over so I could cut him a bit of slack. He throws his routine out of the window and ventures places he’s terrified of going to, pushes his boundaries just to learn more about the woman he loved. This leads him to reconcile with his family, grow as a person but most importantly, let his wife go.

The Curious Charms Of Arthur Pepper is an absolute delight that you don’t want to miss.

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