The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
“He was once Arthur Pepper, beloved husband of Miriam and devoted dad to Dan and Lucy. It was so simple. But now he said that to himself, it sounded like a bog-standard obituary. What was he now? Miriam’s widower? No. There had to be more to him than that. He couldn’t be defined by his wife’s death. Where would he go to next? What would his next clue be?”- excerpt from The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.
When Arthur lost Miriam, he refused to talk about her as someone who was no more. For him, she would always be a real person, and in order to avoid having to talk about her, he started staying home. At sixty-nine, his life worked like clockwork- getting up at a fixed time, dressing up in the same way as always and caring for the motley fern named Frederica. Miriam had been the link that had held the Pepper family together, and with her gone, the family connection seemed to disappear. Arthur seemed content with his life and rejected the concerns of sweet Bernadette, his overly protective neighbour. For her, he was one more lost cause. Bernadette’s mission in life was to keep everyone in the neighbourhood happy and well fed.
A year goes by and finally when Arthur decides to let go of Miriam’s things, he chances upon an exquisite bracelet hidden in her boots. Each charm is unique, and gets Arthur wondering as to why Miriam hid the bracelet. Arthur’s interest is piqued and his curious mind tries to find out the story behind each charm. What follows is an adventure that takes Arthur beyond his comfort zone. Not only does Arthur find out about the different facets that made Miriam what she was, he also learns to look beyond the obvious and understand the depth of human emotions. This story elucidates love, trust and the joy of giving. Every time Arthur finds himself doubting his wife and the people he encounters, fate adds a new twist to his adventure. Every incident leads him to rediscovering the hidden emotions under the tough exterior that he always projected.
Not all the books we read need to be heavy and deep. This sad, yet delightful debut novel by Phaedra Patrick, is a light read. Funny in some places and warm and fuzzy in others, this story makes the reader introspect about the small things in life. Loss and reconciliation thereafter, are dealt with in a very simple manner. Through Arthur one realises, that life comes with the mundane and the exhilarating, and each day should be enjoyed to the fullest.