The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

IMG_2292“He was experiencing emotions he didn’t know existed. He had begun to discover people and animals that excited him. He wasn’t ready to rot away in his armchair, mourning his wife and waiting for his children to call, and filling his days with plant-watering and TV.”

At age sixty-nine, Arthur Pepper has a set routine in life, one that consists of getting up at the same time everyday, wearing a specific set of clothing, spending time in his garden, and watering his plant, Frederica.  Things change when on the one-year anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death, he discovers a charm bracelet in her belongings, which he had never seen before.  His curiosity leads him on a journey to discover the story behind each charm on the bracelet, and in turn learn about Miriam’s life before they met.

“Arthur thought about how it was possible for memories to shift and change with time. To be forgotten and resumed, to be enhanced or darkened as the mind and mood commanded. He had conjured up emotions, of how Miriam had felt about the people who gave the charms to her. He didn’t know. He couldn’t know. But he did know that she had loved him . . . “

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a wonderfully charming story with an equally charming and endearing protagonist.  It encompasses many different themes, including family relationships, the courage to embark on something new, the discomfort/challenge of travel and new situations, as well as the question of how well do you ever truly know someone.  Following Arthur on his journey is an absolute delight, as he uncovers unknown details of his wife’s past along with discoveries about himself and his desires for his life.  He meets an array of interesting characters, each with an engaging story of their own.  A truly sweet and heartwarming read.

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