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Phaedra Patrick: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

‘A feel-good story with oodles of charm’ Daily Mail

Phaedra Patrick introduces The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

One rainy day, as I showed my own childhood charm bracelet to my young son and told him the stories behind each of the charms, an idea came to me about an elderly man who discovers a mysterious bracelet in his late wife’s wardrobe.

I’d enjoyed some success with my short stories, but I had also written five novels that were rejected by publishers. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper was going to be my sixth and, probably, final attempt.

At first, I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to read a book about a 69-year old widower, especially a slightly grumpy, bewildered Yorkshireman. But I think that Arthur Pepper could be anyone’s father, granddad, friend or neighbour.

When we first meet Arthur, he’s imprisoned by the strange routines that he’s adopted for himself after his wife, Miriam’s, death. He’s lonely, hurt and avoids company. However, just as each day he waters his motley fern, Fredrica, and nurses her back to life, he must now do the same for himself.

As I wrote the book, I felt Arthur’s overwhelming sense of bereavement and I wanted to hold his hand and help him to take his first few steps into the outside world, without his wife in it. He became a real person to me.

With each person he meets on his journey, and each new situation he faces, Arthur learns more about Miriam, but also about himself too. He realises that he is resourceful and kind, brave and adaptable – and he still has a place in the world. His reaction to an encounter with a ferocious tiger, his meeting with a homeless man, the relationship advice he gives to a lusty businessman, his donning of electric-blue harem trousers, and his re-connection with his adult children, might force Arthur out of his comfort zone but they bring him laughter, self-discovery and joy too.

I think that life is short and that it’s the little things that bring the most joy. I hope that you enjoy Arthur’s story and that his journey might spark your own sense of curiosity and adventure.

Phaedra Patrick originally studied art and worked as a stained-glass designer before gaining her professional marketing qualifications. She subsequently worked as a communcations manager for The Co-operative Group, where she also organised a film festival for young people. She enjoyed her first real writing success when she entered and won short-story competitions run by Penguin and her current literary agency, Darley Anderson. Her fiction has appeared in various national magazines including My Weekly and The Simple Things. After taking redundancy from her job in 2015, she now writes on a full-time basis. Despite her unusual name, Phaedra comes from Oldham in Lancashire, and now lives just a few miles away with her husband and son, in Saddleworth.

Phaedra’s debut novel, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, will be translated into over 20 languages worldwide and film rights have been optioned by a major movie studio. The book was selected as one of Lovereading’s Books of the Year 2016, and a Reading Group Book of the Year by New Books magazine, also in 2016.


Elland Library, Coronation Street, Elland, HX5 0DF
Thursday 16 March, 2pm

Blackburn Central Library, Town Hall Street, Blackburn, BB2 1AG
Wednesday 22 March, 6.30pm

Marks and Spencer, 25 Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 1RH
Wednesday 19 April, 6pm

Hartlepool Central Library, York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 9DE
Thursday 20 April, 2pm

Heatons Library, Thornfield Road, Stockport, SK4 3LD
Tuesday 25 April, 6.30pm

Skelmanthorpe Library, 24 Commercial Road, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield, HD8 9DA
Thursday 27 April, 2pm

Hebburn Library, Glen Street, Hebburn, NE31 1AB
Wednesday 3 May, 1.30pm

Birtley Library, 16 Durham Road, Birtley, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, DH3 1LE
Thursday 4 May, 10.30am

Pontefract Library, Market Place, Pontefract, WF8 1BD
Monday 12 June, 7pm

Monkseaton Library, Woodleigh Road, Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, NE25 8ET
Tuesday 20 June, 5.30pm

Keighley Library, North Street, Keighley, BD21 3SX
Saturday 8 July, 2pm

Advance booking is advisable and all events may be subject to change. See our individual event listings for further information.

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