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.