Sometimes a book comes your way entirely by accident and such was the case with The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, the first novel by Phaedra Patrick. My wife Jacqui and I were in Toppings in Ely (in my opinion probably the best bookshop in England other than Blackwells in Oxford) and she a picked this up knowing neither the book nor the author. It looked interesting, but the thing that decided her to buy it was one review that compared it to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which, if you haven’t read it, is a fabulous book and I urge you to do so as soon as possible.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper tells the story of Arthur Pepper, a widower who is still lost in mourning one year after death of his wife who discovers a hidden charm bracelet that he has no recollection of ever seeing before. He decides to ring a phone number that is engraved on one of the charms and what that call reveals sets him on the path of finding out about the other charms. In the process he discovers a lot about his wife but even more about himself.
It’s thought-provoking and warm hearted as it goes through Arthur’s confusion, hurt, bafflement and anger as he slowly uncovers the life that his wife lead before they were married. And it takes a richer turn as this process not only makes him more open with people that he meets but also brings him closer to his daughter.
The best thing about the book in my opinion is not the detective work that leads to the finding about each of the charms but his development as a man and as a father as he goes through this. It’s a great book and I can highly recommend it.