Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. He finally musters the courage to go through her possessions and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before.
What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur on an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife's life - a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places.
©2016 Phaedra Patrick (P)2016 W F Howes Ltd
Writer and audiobook reviewer.
Arthur Pepper has been a widower for almost a year. Enveloped in his grievous pain, distanced from his son and daughter, 'empty as an egg without a yolk', he has become imprisoned by his daily routines, watering the pot plant he has named Frederica and trying to avoid Bernadette, the good-hearted neighbour who keeps calling with pies and cakes. That is until he finds a charm bracelet he doesn't recognise as he packs up his wife Miriam's clothes for the charity shop. It's the beginning of a succession of journeys both literal and spiritual.
As he researches each of the charms on the bracelet beginning with the little elephant, Miriam's life before she met Arthur is revealed, a life full of incidents and exotic experiences of which he knew nothing and which initially fill him with hurt. Why did she never tell him? Has their long marriage been a lie? Had he been a disappointment to the wife whom he loved so deeply and who had had such adventures?
The whole is a kind of parable revealed as the story behind each charm brings Arthur closer to learning to reconnect with life once more as he meets people and does things for the first time - things which he could never have imagined possible. Instead of shutting himself away with Frederica, he blossoms as he explores Miriam's early life. His heart heals and opens out and he learns to treasure the happy years Miriam had given him. It's a lovely, uplifting, tender and touching story!
But how lucky is the author Phaedra Patrick having this her first novel read by Peter Joyce! He is one of a handful of the very best audiobook narrators there is. His character voices, accents and phrasing make the listening to all the nuances of emotion in these stories stunningly real - and there is a huge cast of characters for Joyce to bring alive, not just from Arthur's Yorkshire, but from all walks of life and countries including India, Eastern Europe and Australia. Peter Joyce makes this a first class listening experience - a real delight!
This is a charming book, lovely descriptive passages without being
boring. Arthur Pepper is typical of his generation, afraid and not always capable of showing or expressing his feelings after the death of his wife of 40 years. Its his journey through grief and finding his self, but not depressing. Its is thought provoking as well as humorous and the narrator conjures up a picture of a bumbling northern man and his discovery that although life as he knew it is over, a new and exciting one is just beginning,
It was easy for this book to become a silly, full of clichés read about ups and downs of life, but it's everything but it. It's funny and intelligent and charges the batteries of the reader with a pure optimism. Peter Joyce's performance is incredible, surely one of the best on Audible.
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