I’m kind of cheating here, because I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Most of what I’ve “read” in recent years are actually things I’ve listened to. If you’re not a fan of the format (or think you aren’t because you haven’t actually listened to any), a small fiction story or a nonfiction piece might be a good intro. They really are good productions and a far cry from the dry readings of early audiobook days.
For this post, I’m going with The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. It’s a delightful tale despite the premise of the story. Let’s get to it! Arthur Pepper is leading a dull, dreary life since the death of his wife, Miriam. He has a routine that does not lend itself to interruptions. As the one year anniversary of Miriam’s death looms near, Arthur decides it’s time to at last go through his wife belongings and clean them out. Since Arthur and his wife were married for 40 years, Arthur would never guess that there are still surprises left to be found in the relationship – especially since his wife is, well, dead. Nestled deep within the clothing, Arthur finds an extraordinary bracelet full of gold charms – a decadent piece of jewelry that Arthur never remembers his wife wearing. Turns out, Miriam’s life was pretty exciting before she met and married Arthur and he never knew a thing about it. But, why? What possible reason would Miriam have to keep secrets from him?
Arthur sets off on an unexpected quest to discover the truth about each of the charms and is able to reconnect with his wife in a way they never connected while they were married. Arthur begins to question everything he knew and slowly works his way out of his rut and opens himself up to strangers, neighbors, and his estranged adult children. If the bracelet was a reminder to Miriam of what her life had been, it becomes a token for Arthur about what life still could be.
This was a very sweet and sometimes slapstick story. It’s not a heavy read, so it’s really ideal for an audiobook format. I enjoyed being a part of Arthur’s journey and finding out where the discovery of the bracelet would take him. If you’re also looking for something as a book club selection, this would be a good neutral choice. I’ve included some links below that have discussion questions and other information.
Here’s YouTube ad for the book.
Phaedra Patrick’s site which includes her other books and discussion questions.
Another reading guide and author blurb with additional reading suggestions.