The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Published: May 3, 2016
Sixty-nine year old Arthur Pepper is a lonely routine-driven man who has just reached the first anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death. He is not dealing with it well. While going through some of her things to donate to the charity shop, he finds a mysterious charm bracelet and decides to investigate it to figure out its significance to his wife. In doing so, he discovers not only the truth about his wife’s past but also more about himself and what he is capable of.
I first picked this book up because the blurb reminded me a little of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (which I loved), not so much for the story but because they are both older men who are starting their life over again after the death of their spouse and changing the way they think. I loved Arthur’s character and the transformation he goes through. It gives me hope. Arthur is depressed at the beginning of the book, trying to sort through his emotions on the anniversary of his wife’s death and not really succeeding. There’s a quote from near the end of the book where Arthur is thinking about the past year and says “The past twelve months of living alone, of devising his strict routines, had made the color fade from his life.” I thought that was a really good description of what depression feels like. There’s also a great quote where he talks about missing Miriam: “He could smell her perfume, something with roses and lily of the valley, and it made him want to nestle his nose in the nape of her neck, just one more time please, God.” The quote makes me wonder if that’s how my grandfather secretly feels about my grandmother when he misses her.
When Arthur finds the bracelet, he is reluctant to learn new things about his wife. I enjoyed reading about how Arthur ends up discovering so many more new things about himself, instead of just his wife’s past, and how much he is still in love with his wife, despite everything. I especially liked the part of the story in London with Mike and the guy with two girlfriends. The ending made me cry, not in a bad way, but in a sweet way. This is especially true when Arthur reads the note from his wife and sees that she thinks that “he is quiet and kind. He is steady and he loves me. We share a quiet kind of love.” So he realizes that she didn’t just settle for him but truly loved him for who he was, especially because he of who he is. Sigh. Who doesn’t want that? 5 stars.
Disclaimer: I received this book as an Advanced Readers Copy from the Harlequin publishers in exchange for my honest review.