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The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. MIRA Books 2016. 307 pp. 

Miriam and Arthur have been married for quite a few years and live a rather quiet (dull) life. They have two adult children. Their daughter lives nearby and has recently been dumped by her husband, and their son, further away, doesn’t have a close relationship to them They both seem content with their humdrum life.  Then, Miriam dies, and Arthur is shattered. He keeps up with what had been their daily routine and even avoids his kindly neighbor who tries to cook some meals for him and cheer him up. He doesn’t even answer the door when she comes over.    
One day he decides to sort through her belongings and donate them to a charity. Inside a pair of her shoes he finds a beautiful charm bracelet. It is so unlike her to have this. The first charm is an elephant with a telephone number on it, which Arthur recognizes as a number from India. Surprisingly he calls it and talks to a very nice man who had known her before Arthur and Miriam had met. She had been a full time babysitter for their family ,and they had been very fond of her. 
Now the story really begins, and Arthur starts out to “follow the charms.” Not only does he find out about Miriam’s life before he knew her, but he finds out what a life he is capable of living. He becomes transformed and learns to relate to so many different people. 
It begins about charms, but is also a charming book. Patrick is an entertaining writer. This is her first novel, and a great read for a sunny beach day or cold winter day, of which there have been too many lately.

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