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Book Club Kits: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Phaedra Patrick

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Book Summary

In this poignant and curiously charming debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same grey slacks and mustard sweater-vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam's death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam's possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he's never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife's secret life before they met - a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous celebration of life's infinite possibilities.

"Filled with colourful, complex characters and adventure, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a lovely story about grief and healing. I was moved by Arthur and his journey. You will be too." - Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Love Walked In

"Once in a great while, a character like Arthur Pepper comes along and quietly steals your heart. Arthur might make you cry - but he'll also make you laugh, think, and feel grateful that you came along on his fantastical journey." - Sarah Pekkanen, bestselling author of Things You Won't Say

"Eccentric, charming, and wise, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is about finding courage, generosity, and compassion, even when all seems lost... This book will illuminate your heart." - Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop

"A touching tale of rediscovering someone you love. Arthur Pepper is utterly charming and endearing." - Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Daughter

"Tender, insightful, and surprising... [Arthur Pepper] will instantly capture the hearts of readers who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Little Paris Bookshop, and The Red Notebook." - Library Journal, starred review

Read an excerpt.


Discussion Questions

  1. Would you call The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper an adventure tale? A romance? A mystery?
  2. Arthur, at 69 years old, has led a pretty sheltered life. Do you think he is typical of many in his generation?
  3. When someone rings his doorbell, Arthur often pretends not to be at home. ‘He screwed his eyes shut and pretended he was a statue in the garden of a stately home.’ (Chapter One). Why do you think he does this? Is it something you might do?
  4. If you were in Arthur’s situation, bereaved after a long marriage, would you also devise strategies and routines to get you through the day?
  5. Arthur’s daughter, Lucy, worries about him. ‘Lucy was more thoughtful. She sent thank-you cards and never, ever forgot a birthday.’ (Chapter One). Do you think that girls are expected to be more caring and thoughtful than boys? Is this a natural thing, or something that is passed on?
  6. Arthur is a very decent man. Why has he grown estranged from his own children?
  7. Bernadette looks after her ‘lost causes’ with home-cooked food? Why do you think she does this? Do you ever use food as a way of looking after yourself, or others?
  8. What do you think teenager, Nathan Patterson, thinks of Arthur when his mother, Bernadette, strikes up a friendship with the pensioner and Arthur tags along on their trip to look at universities? Can inter-generational friendships work?
  9. Arthur finds himself being entertained in the home of tiger-obsessed Lord and Lady Graystock. How does the Graystocks’ life contrast with Arthur and Miriam’s? Are there any similarities?
  10. Arthur comes out of his comfort zone by travelling to London, Paris and India. When you have travelled to other countries, do you feel excited, or more apprehensive, about your travels? Were the places you travelled to as you expected, or were they very different?
  11. Arthur encounters many people on his travels including tiger-crazy Lord Graystock, young homeless man Mike, Sylvie the French wedding boutique owner, Bernadette the busybody neighbor, caring daughter Lucy, illegal immigrant Sebastian, novelist Francois de Chauffant, and Indian doctor Mr Mehra. Which character did you feel most emotionally connected to, and why?
  12. Young homeless man, Mike, tells Arthur, ‘Those charms might bring you luck.’ What is your own lucky charm, and what luck has it brought you?
  13. Which is your favorite story behind the charms – heart, paint palette, ring, book, tiger, elephant, thimble and flower – and why?
  14. Arthur learns more about technology through his conversation with Nathan (eg Nathan uses Facebook to find Sonny Yardley). Would Arthur have been able to trace each of the charms on Miriam’s bracelet without technology? Do you tend to shun or embrace technology?
  15. The book tackles real life situations, but also asks the reader to accept life’s random circumstances. Have any strange coincidences happened to you?
  16. Do you think most married couples keep secrets about their pasts from each other?
  17. What would you say is, ultimately, the most important thing that Arthur discovers about Miriam? About himself? About their life together?

About the Author

Phaedra Patrick is the bestselling author of two novels THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER and RISE AND SHINE, BENDICT STONE (known as WISHES UNDER THE WILLOW TREE in the UK).

Her first novel, THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER was translated into over twenty languages worldwide, with film rights optioned in the US. It was awarded the Prix des Lectrices 2017 in France. Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop said: “Phaedra Patrick understands the soul. Eccentric, charming and wise…This book will illuminate your heart.”

Both ARTHUR PEPPER and BENEDICT STONE were Indie Next picks in the US, and each was awarded a starred review by the Library Journal. The publication described her work as, “Tender, insightful and surprising.”

She qualified firstly as a stained glass artist before gaining her professional Marketing qualifications. She has worked as a waitress, stained glass designer, film festival organizer and communications manager. She enjoyed her first real writing success when she entered and won several short story competitions, and she now writes full time.

Phaedra lives in Saddleworth, UK, with her husband and son and she is currently working on her next novel.