Widowed for a year, Arthur Pepper is sunk into a lonely routine. He decides it’s time to go through his late wife’s things and dispose of them. Upon picking up a pair of her boots, he finds an unusual charm bracelet in the toe. Unusual and unfamiliar to him – he examines its seemingly random collection of charms. Why had he never seen her wear it? Do the charms represent anything? An Indian elephant with a howdah has what appears to be a foreign phone number engraved on it and he decides to call it. The response he receives opens a door on a part of her life he never knew existed.
Emboldened by the phone call and its results, Arthur decides to try to trace the origins of the other charms and also the life his wife led before they met. Never adventurous, he’s a little afraid, a little hurt, but very curious. Each foray into his wife’s past causes him to re-evaluate the woman he knew, the life they led, and ultimately, his own life now.
This is a gentle read but not a silly one. In The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Arthur stands out of the pages as a real human being with hopes, fears, and doubts. There is a definite place in the reading world for books of this type – charming without being too sweet, warm and appealing.