The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Arthur Pepper has been a lonely widower for a year when he finds a charm bracelet he never knew existed that belonged to his wife. Arthur has pretty much spent all the time since his wife died like a recluse, isolated from others and depressed. “He carried his loss around with him like a bowling bowl in the pit of his stomach.” “The only feelings he experienced were sadness, disappointment and melancholy.” “There didn’t seem much point in discovering things alone.”
Arthur’s curiosity gets the best of him and he begins his adventure of tracking down where this bracelet and charms came from and why his wife had them. The search stirs something in Arthur and he experiences “emotions he didn’t know existed. He began to discover people that excited him. It made him feel alive.” With each person he encounters along the way, Arthur begins to change and grow. He discovers things about himself: He was braver than he thought. He was good at offering advice to others. He was more open and accepting of others than he knew. He was stronger and had more depth. These people stirred a desire in him to carry on with life.
The characters he meets along the way are all curious and charming as well. There is Bernadette, the neighborhood woman who likes lost causes and takes it upon herself to try to help them, including Arthur. Bernadette’s strange, silent son Nathan. The man who lives with tigers, a former drug addict who is now a peddler, a gay young man who lives and takes care of an old, demented writer, a friendly man from India and a rude woman painter. Each of these characters have their own story. Arthur really struggles with all the people and things that his wife Miriam kept from him, but by the end of the book he was made peace with it, made a lot of friends and come out of his shell. “The past year of living alone had made the color fade from his life. He had needed something to fill the void.” And he finds it. Lovely and charming book!