Author: Phaedra Patrick
Overview from Barnes and Noble Website:
Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, 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 and healing in the most unexpected places.
Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous reminder of life’s infinite possibilities.
If you were to ask your local librarian (if we were still allowed to go into libraries) where you could find a nice, easy read for a feel-good book, she would point you to the direction of Arthur Pepper. On the surface, the story seems rather mundane. An older man who just lost his wife finds himself trapped in routine while his attitude towards life and those around him becomes bleaker and bleaker.
But, there is more to this story. We saw his initial reactions to other characters, hiding from those who knock on his door, reluctantly chat with neighbors, bah-hum his way through conversation with a teenager. This was a great way of establishing his character. We understand, through the narrative, that Arthur was not always so crotchety, that when his late wife, Miriam, was alive, they found comfort and happiness in their own routine and quite life. Now, he can only find solace in remaining isolated and sticking to his own routine.
This initial build-up was such a short part of the story, yet it was able to capture the character of Arthur. The reveal of Miriam’s bracelet brought a twist to Arthur’s routine as it is something Arthur had never seen Miriam wear or mention yet the charms attached to the bracelet look expensive. The jeweled elephant charm led to his initial call to India, where he was able to place Miriam during her youth, an adventure Miriam never revealed to Arthur. Despite a desire to end his curiosity there, Arthur decides to make a drastic change to his everyday routine and set out on an adventure to find the stories behind each charm on the bracelet.
As Arthur slowly starts his journey, he develops an unlikely friendship with his nosy (often over-the-top) acquaintance and her son. At first, during the journey, it was a simple transaction, they offered a ride, he went along with their conversation. But, as the story develops he comes to care for the two and he no longer viewed the prying as intrusive, but rather as a form of care.
The story takes you through wild animal attacks, sleeping at a stranger’s house, new cities and people, and much more. Not bad for a nearly seventy year old man!
At some points throughout the story, he begins to doubt his relationship with Miriam. She went on all these adventures with interesting people and yet spent a majority of her life living through routines at home with Arthur. Nothing wild or crazy.
Without giving too much away on his actual adventures in the story, I can say that I found the ending to be a satisfying conclusion to Arthur’s personal development. This book did a good job at pacing and early character development and establishing his personality and the personality of the side characters and the dynamic between everyone early in the story.
While each part of the story could have used a bit more fleshing out, I was still engaged and believed the emotional journey the author was describing as I believed Arthur Pepper . The ending was sweet and I was happy for the character’s outcome and journey. So, if a book can create that level of feeling and have me feel invested in a character’s growth and journey, then that makes for an easy, enjoyable read.