As the title suggests, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is charming, delightful, and endearing. It contains all of the elements of a cozy and absorbing read:
Lovable characters – check.
Cross-cultural references and experiences – check.
Character development – check.
Humorous moments – check.
The urge to read “just one more chapter” – check.
The story goes like this: one year after his beloved wife passes away, Arthur decides it’s high time to donate the things she left behind to charity. As he rifles through the closet, Arthur discovers an intricate gold charm bracelet, which he has never seen before. The story unravels from there, following Arthur as he goes to great measures to uncover what each of the charms on his wife’s bracelet represent. What he finds is a secret life he never knew about. The journey takes him away from the comforts of his routine and his fern, Fredrica, into a world he never allowed himself to fully experience before.
As I browsed through the reviews of this book on Goodreads, I noticed several of the readers who gave The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper negative reviews believed that the circumstances described in the book were totally unbelievable and implausible.
Well, guess what haters?
Sometimes seemingly impossible adventures have meaning too.
Since when does fiction writing have to be completely realistic?
I mean, there are hundreds, probably thousands of great stories out there that are totally impossible. I think of the Chronicles of Narnia (and every book with talking animals for that matter) – the stories in that series could never happen in real life, but they are very much relevant and meaningful to our lives all the same.
This book is sweet and fun and maybe “implausible” on the surface, but if you look a little deeper, it demonstrates truths that we can all relate to and learn from, like this one:
As it turns out – you can teach an old dog new tricks.
“He was experiencing emotions he didn’t know existed. He had begun to discover people and animals that excited him. He wasn’t ready to rot away in his armchair, mourning his wife and waiting for his children to call, and filling his days with plant-watering and TV.”
One of my favorite parts of this book was watching Arthur’s character development and change of heart as the story progressed.
Now remember – Arthur is a 69-year-old widower, pretty set in his ways and attached to his routine, not a 20-something seeking out adventure and hoping to “find himself”. Yet, his experience demonstrates that people can change, develop, explore, and grow, no matter their age!
This point really resonated with me personally as I have been struggling with feeling pressure to figure out “the rest of my life”.
Yes, I know it sounds very dramatic, but hear me out.
Like many girls, all my life I have dreamed of graduating from college, finding the love of my life, settling down, and starting a family. These are the things I have always looked forward to.
Now here I am in my mid-twenties and I’ve checked all of those boxes! Sure there are more things I want to do, like travel, write, and one day open a business, but being pregnant with my second child, I have found myself occasionally wondering –
What am I going to do with the rest of my life?
What else do I have to look forward to?
How am I going to make sure I keep having adventures, experiencing new things, and growing as a person instead of getting bogged down by day-to-day routines?
Call me silly for being inspired by a fictional 69-year-old widower (we don’t have a lot in common…) but as I followed Arthur’s journey, I truly felt like I still have a lot left to do in life.
Hooray! This doesn’t have to be the only fun and beautiful season of my life (I’m talking to you random people who pass by my daughter and me tell me that “this is the best time in my life” — that really stresses me out by the way!).
It’s wonderful to be reminded that there are new places for me to go, new people to meet, new food to be tasted, new books to get lost in, new memories to make with my favorite people, new hobbies to pursue, new experiences to learn from.
And that was my very long-winded way of saying, “I thought this book was great. You should read it, too.”
Title: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
Author: Phaedra Patrick
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)
Published: 2016 by MIRA Books