Book Review: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

The Blurb

Forty years of marriage. Eight golden charms. One man’s journey of discovery.

Arthur and Miriam Pepper were happily married for forty years. They shared an uneventful life in Yorkshire, two children and had no secrets. At least that’s what Arthur thought.

Now he is on his own. He gets up every morning, eats his breakfast, waters his plant, Frederica, and speaks to nobody unless it is absolutely necessary. Until something disrupts his routine.

On the first anniversary of Miriam’s death, Arthur finds a small box containing a gold charm bracelet. On the underside of an elephant charm is a telephone number and, uncharacteristically, Arthur picks up the phone.

That call changes everything he thought he knew about Miriam. Embarking on a journey, charm by charm, Arthur uncovers his wife’s secret life before they met, and along the way learns more about himself.


Losing a loved one is bad enough, but what if you found out that person had a whole other life before you? What would you do? It had been a year since Arthur Pepper’s beloved wife, Miriam, passed away. On the anniversary of her death, he decides to clear out her things and get closure. As he’s doing so, he finds a small box with a gold charm bracelet in it. Thus unfold a series of events that will change Arthur’s life forever.

We are introduced to Arthur, a seemingly ordinary man who lost his wife a year ago. His two children, daughter Lucy and son Dan have lives of their own so he is left to fend for himself. We are also introduced to his colourful neighbours with whom he doesn’t talk or interact with much. Yet, they all seem genuinely caring and loving towards him.

The discovery of the bracelet and his journey in unravelling the mystery behind each charm make Arthur question if he knew his wife at all. There are some revelations that Arthur finds hard to digest but, ultimately, he accepts her past and makes his peace with it. In the process, he also realises he has to move on from Miriam’s loss and embrace the people who are still in his life.

While the book is about Arthur, there are numerous supporting characters who make the book interesting. The supporting character I loved the most was his neighbour, Bernadette. Though she has her own personal issues, she takes the time to care for her neighbours and people in her community. Others are also quite good and I genuinely enjoyed reading their adventures with Arthur. You will ask yourself, “What would I do if I was in that situation with this person?”

I also loved the pace of the book. It doesn’t give too many unnecessary details about things and sticks to Arthur’s interactions. These interactions are laced with humour and drama, making the pages a delight to turn.

Each and every one of us has a past. Some aspects of it are great, which we share over and over again (usually on Facebook or Instagram). Some aspects are best left as memories. And still others, we wish could be forgotten and lost forever. When reading ‘The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper’, I too wondered the things I would like people to know about me and things I wouldn’t. And I really liked that the book made me think on its terms.

This is Phaedra Patrick’s debut novel and I must say she has done a fine job. Who doesn’t love a story of self-discovery and finding happiness? ‘The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper’ is a sweet drama, sprinkled with generous amounts of humour. This book is for anyone who loves a feel-good story.

NOTE: This review was first published on my previous blog, Noinpart.

3 Things I Loved About This Book

  1. The characters are likeable and charming, especially the main character.
  2. There are no unnecessary character or plot details.
  3. Good pace. No boring pitstops anywhere. You can finish this book in one sitting.

What Could Have Been Better?

Nothing. It’s a simple story with likeable characters and a lot of heart.

My Story With This Book

I don’t remember where I bought this book. Must’ve been at an airport. It was part of a book club read and I picked it up thinking I’ll also join this book club (which I didn’t).

My Rating (?)

That was good.

The Technical Stuff

  • Title: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
  • Author: Phaedra Patrick (more books by the author)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages: 352
  • Publisher: Harlequin Mira
  • Edition/Copyright: 2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-848-45501-6
  • Average reading time: 5 hours and 29 minutes. (How Long to Read?)
  • Goodreads rating: 3.90 (Goodreads)

Buying Options

Amazon: Audible | Hardback | Kindle | Paperback

Or better yet, your friendly neighbourhood bookstore.

Question For You

Which books have you read that have charming old characters?

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I read books and sleep all day. I also work. Sometimes.

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