‘Eccentric, charming and wise, this will illuminate your heart’ Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop
40 years of marriage
8 golden charms
One man’s journey of self-discovery
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper By Phaedra Patrick
Published by MIRA 7th April 2016, £12.99 (Hardback/ Ebook)
When he finally makes himself sort through Miriam's wardrobe Arthur finds an unfamiliar gold charm bracelet. Upon closer examination, he finds a telephone number on the underside of a gold elephant charm and on a whim, he picks up the phone.
And so begins Arthur’s quest as he travels from the safety of home to London, Paris and India on an epic quest to discover, charm by charm, Miriam’s secret life before they met. And along the way, he might just find out more about himself.
An Introduction to Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
I wrote five novels before my sixth one, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, was snapped up in eighteen countries. There was something about Arthur Pepper that made readers want to join him on his journey of discovery, to find out about his late wife’s charm bracelet and her secret life before they met. But what was it?
I was inspired to write about Arthur when my novels about young women were turned down by publishers. I thought that if I wrote about an elderly man then it would at least remove that reason for rejection!
At first, I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to read a book about a 69-year old widower, especially a slightly grumpy, bewildered Yorkshireman. But I think that Arthur could be anyone’s father, granddad or neighbour. He isn’t based on a real person but I always thought that Hugh Laurie would play him brilliantly.
Arthur’s first name is traditional and his surname is more quirky. These are the two sides of him that I wanted to reflect. His character first came to life in a conversation he has with his lovely but overbearing neighbour, Bernadette. In response to her constant questioning, he snaps, ‘Is this Mastermind? I don’t remember applying.’ And with that sentence, his true character was born.
When we first meet Arthur, he’s imprisoned by the strange routines that he’s adopted for himself after his wife, Miriam’s, death. He’s lonely, hurt and avoids company. However, just as each day he waters his motley fern, Fredrica, and nurses her back to life, he must now do the same for himself. After finding Miriam’s mysterious charm bracelet in her wardrobe, he decides to take his first few steps into the outside world, without his wife in it.
With each person he meets on his journey, and each new situation he faces, Arthur learns more about Miriam, but also about himself too. He realises that he is resourceful and kind, brave and adaptable – and he still has a place in the world.
His reaction to an encounter with a ferocious tiger, his meeting with a homeless man, the relationship advice he gives to a lusty businessman, his donning of electric-blue harem trousers, and his re-connection with his adult children, might force Arthur out of his comfort zone but they also bring him laughter, self-discovery and joy too.
A reviewer on Goodreads said that after reading The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, “You won't ever look at a pensioner again without wondering what their stories are.” If the book encourages us to look at older people and think about, or ask, what lives they’ve led, then I think that’s a good thing.
About the author:
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous celebration of life's infinite possibilities, heralding the arrival of a major new talent in Phaedra Patrick.
Phaedra Patrick studied art and marketing and has worked as a stained glass artist, film festival organiser and communications manager. She was inspired to write Arthur Pepper’s story by the memories of her own charm bracelet. She lives near Manchester with her husband and son.
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