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Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper: AKA A Widower's Journey Into His Wife's Past

Love, love, love Arthur Pepper. Phaedra Patrick's debut is a story that's making its way to my keeper shelf, and it charmed me for many reasons. I'm going to start with the setting. York was home to my dad's god daughter, it's a city I've been to many times, but it was mention of Bridlington (where many members of my family live) and even talk of Sir Alan Ayckbourn, a playwright/director who I learned of as a child when my uncle wrote a play that ended up on stage at the Scarborough in the Round festival that Sir Alan Ayckbourn was part of. As a result, the setting and some references ended up feeling very real to me.

After four decades of marriage, the death of his wife has left Arthur Pepper reeling. Even one year later, he's maintaining the same routine as they did as a couple, but he's alone. He's hiding from a neighborhood woman, getting up at the exact same hour, and having little interaction with his neighbors and children. When he decides to start clearing out his late wife's belongings, he never expects to find a charm bracelet he'd never seen before.

The first charm to catch his eye is that of an elephant. There's a phone number on it, so he makes the call. He soon learns that each charm captures a time in Miriam's life that she never spoke of. Arthur makes it a priority to uncover pieces of Miriam's life before him by tracking down each charm and what it meant to her. This means getting mauled by a tiger, traveling to other countries, and learning a lot about both Miriam and himself in the process.

I loved this story. It's not your run-of-the-mill tale, it's part adventure, part dealing with grief, and a whole lot of Arthur's own coming of age so to speak. He grows a lot over the course of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and I found myself unhappy that the book ended. I wanted more of Arthur, his family, and the people he meets during his journey.

Look for The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper on May 3, 2016. It's a refreshing story from MIRA that I'm so glad I read.

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