I kindly received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review
Published: 7th April 2016 (MIRA UK)
Synopsis: In this poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure.
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, healing and self-discovery 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 curiously charming debut and a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a beautifully written story about widower, Arthur. It is mainly from Arthur’s point of view and opens on the first anniversary of his wife’s death. Arthur and Miriam were married for 40 years and had two children, Lucy and Dan. Lucy lives close to her father however Dan has emigrated with his family. Arthur is not doing too well, he is quite lonely and isolated, and has taken solace in routine; he does the same things at the same time each day and anything that has the potential to disrupt this routine is avoided…including Bernadette, a local lady who often pops around with food for Arthur.
The start of this book is so emotive, providing a sad reflection upon how the new ‘normal’ is for someone who has been widowed. I immediately liked Arthur with his no nonsense approach and dry sense of humour which comes across when he is hiding from Bernadette! Arthur is preparing to donate his wife’s belongings, Patrick really gets across to the reader the difficulty that Arthur has overcome to get to this point and how hard this task is for him. Whilst sorting out Miriam’s items, Arthur comes across a charm bracelet, hidden in a boot, that he has never seen before. This sparks a hunt into finding out the stories behind each of the charms.
At times, the story is told from Lucy’s point of view so we get to understand the family dynamics a bit more from her. Lucy has always felt like the organiser, the one who keeps the family together – checking in with their Dad and making sure that Dan stays in touch, it becomes apparent that Lucy feels responsible for her father.
I liked the majority of the characters, including the petulant Nathan, however I wasn’t keen on Dan because of his selfish ways – which I am sure was Patrick’s intention! I also liked the diverse characters Arthur meets during his travels. What I really liked about this book is how Miriam feels like a main character because it is her history that we are learning about whilst Arthur is on his journey, who is also learning new things about himself at the same time.
Patrick sensitively handles the devastating effect that Miriam’s loss has had upon the whole family but especially Arthur because, after 40 years, he has also lost a part of himself as a result.
This is a very poignant, amusing and heartwarming story which draws you in right from the start, by Chapter 3 I felt like I was on the journey with Arthur! This story really made me think, particularly about my parents and the stories that they have both apart and together. Towards the end of the story, I was actually beginning to feel a little tearful because it is just so beautiful, both in respect of the narrative and the hidden messages.
This is a fantastic debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Phaedra Patrick.
About the author (courtesy of GoodReads)