In her debut novel, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Phaedra Patrick delivers a touching story of how love and life can be rediscovered amid the devastating feeling of sadness and loss.
Sixty-nine year old Arthur Pepper is grieving. Miriam, his wife of forty years has died due to an unexpected illness and Arthur retreats into a state of passive indifference to everything and everyone around him, including his overly solicitous neighbor Bernadette, and even his children.
One day, as he is clearing out his wife’s belongings, he finds a gold charm bracelet in her wardrobe that he never saw his wife wear in all the years they were together. He sees that one of the charms is in the shape of an elephant, and in it is engraved a name and a number.
This is the beginning of the journey of a lifetime for Arthur. As he becomes determined to discover the history behind the bracelet and each individual charm, his search will take him to places like London, Paris and India, as he tries to discover the past of the woman he married.
He discovers a different Miriam than the one he knew, an adventurous, carefree spirit who lived her life joyfully and abundantly, in the midst of relationships with famous authors and artists, while searching for her own happiness and destiny.
As Arthur begins to question what could possess such a woman, such a different Miriam from the one he knew, to marry a man like him, drab, habitual, and lacking in the way of an adventurer, he slowly understands that love has many different and sometimes complicated layers, and that the Miriam he discovers, is part of the woman she became; the wife who he loved for almost a lifetime.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is not only touching but also invites the reader to a bit of self-reflection. As we immerse ourselves in Arthur’s story, it becomes clear that true love is in a way unvarying, even if we ourselves are not.