Arthur Pepper is still mourning the loss of his beloved wife Miriam. On the anniversary of her death he decides it’s time to take her clothes down from the wardrobe and give them to charity. As he is sorting through Miriam’s items he comes across a charm bracelet, one he does not recall Miriam every wearing. Spotting a clue on one of the charms Arthur is soon the trail of the history of the charms. The more he finds out about the bracelet, the more he learns about a Miriam he never knew, and learns more about himself in the process.
I found myself charmed by Arthur and his tale of discovery. I was soon wrapped up in his story, wondering where the next charm would take him and what adventure, or misadventure he would find himself in.
There were some wonderful characters in this book all perfectly drawn. Arthur’s description of grief at the loss of Miriam seemed all too real and his tendency to revert to introspection and loneliness felt true to live. Bernadette is a larger than life character who appears initially to be a busy body but who’s exterior hides a kind, lonely woman who has only good intentions for those she cares about. As Arthur bumbles along on his adventure he meets some wildly different but all wonderful characters, including Lord Graystock, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a real life eccentric member of the aristocracy with a penchant for wild animals, and Mike the former drug addict who helps Arthur when he gets into a spot of bother in London. As Arthur finds out about each charm on the bracelet he finds out more about Miriam. Her personality is rounded out. She is very easily imagined and is as much of a main character in the novel as the others are, even though she is gone before the book starts.
This book is as much about Arthur’s transformation as it is about Miriam’s hidden past. We see Arthur go from merely existing to living again. He rediscovers his zest for life and does things that he never imagined he would. This story shows that when life unexpectedly goes off course, the new paths open to explore are often exciting ones. It is never too late to try new things and to learn to love any new lives we may face.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is the debut novel from Phaedra Patrick. It is an assured, lovely tale of enduring love, grief and finding a new way to live after the loss of a loved one. I look forward to reading more from Phaedra Patrick in the future.