I recently sat down and listened to The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, checking it out on Hoopla, and finding myself desperately clawing for more time to listen to this book. This book, the debut work of Phaedra Patrick, tells the story of an old man who goes on an adventure after the untimely death of his wife. Sounds familiar?
This book is not UP, the 2009 Pixar film about an old man who goes on an adventure after the death of his wife, but the premise is similar enough.
Arthur Pepper is a retired locksmith, who led a boring, but cheerful life with his wife, Miriam, and his two children. After his wife died, his two children drift away, and Arthur becomes a recluse. In attempting to move on, Arthur begins to clear out Miriam’s closet, where he finds a charm bracelet he had never seen before. A phone number on one of the charms leads Arthur to calling India, and the story starts on an adventure as Arthur finds out the story behind each of the charms. This bracelet takes Arthur through experiences he never imagined, growing closer to his children, figuring out how both to live after his wife’s death and how to handle the things he’s finding out about her through the charm bracelet.
UP, of course, is a child friendly kid’s movie that goes between heartbreakingly sad to being a quotable comedy. The film is bombastic and wild, and wonderful in every way.
This book is very much adult fiction book, discussing sex, drugs, affairs, and the like, but holds the same charm as UP.
To talk about this book is to talk about grief, love, joy and sorrow. It is heavy and lighthearted, and made me laugh as much as I cried. I could talk about how the story is well paced and deals with grief beautifully, but this is what I am going to say:
Read this book. Talk about this book. It is worth reading, and loving, and talking about. Arthur Pepper is a good soul, and his character is how we should aspire to be as we grow old.
Have you read this book? Did you draw the same comparison? Let me know in comments.