Arthur Pepper is sixty nine and mourning the death of his wife the year before. On the anniversary he steels himself to go through her things to dispose of them. Hidden away, he finds a gold charm bracelet which he’s never seen before. The charms are fascinating and he thinks they may have had some special meaning for his wife. Seeing a number engraved on a beautiful little elephant, he deduces that it’s a phone number and plucks up courage to dial it. To his amazement, he speaks to someone in India who knew his wife. He had no idea his wife had ever been to India! This is how the quest begins: to investigate each charm in turn to discover its meaning.
This takes nerve because ‘Arthur really didn’t want to leave the security of his house, the smothering comfort of his routine.’ Nevertheless he sets out bravely until he has tracked each charm. Some of his adventures are highly improbable but this is fiction. He discovers that before they met, his wife had a life he knew nothing about. Will this destroy his memories of what was for him a long and happy marriage? The book is bound to be compared with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry but they are very different stories.
There are some oddities here. Arthur is my generation but I don’t know anyone my age called Arthur and never have done. He says ‘swell’ and ‘go paddle’, which Englishmen don’t. But it’s impossible not to like Arthur and to hope for a better, less lonely future for him.
This is out today and I read it courtesy of NetGalley.