The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

charmsThe style of the story is reminiscent of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and the subsequent Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

Arthur is grieving for his wife. His story is about processing the grief and coming to terms with the woman she was with him and the woman she was before he come into her life.

Isn’t that true for all of us or at least the majority of us? There is always an element of ourselves and our lives we keep hidden from our spouses and/or life partners. The life, friends, adventures and experiences before you settle down, and sometimes even after you’ve settled down. Secret lives and the unknown facets of the person you love.

This is exactly what happens to Arthur. He finds an expensive charm bracelet in a small box hidden in a shoe in his wife’s cupboard. A trinket he has never seen before and knows nothing about.

The charms end up leading him on a lifetime of adventures. He discovers so many new things about Miriam, things he couldn’t have imagined her ever doing. Ex-lovers, trips to exotic places and even living in India for a while. It makes him doubt the life they had together and the love they had for each other.

In the end this is a story of how Arthur emerges from the darkness and the depths of his grief. How he reconnects with life and in a way with the Miriam he used to know and most importantly the Miriam he knows now.

It’s a lovely tale of sorrow, loneliness and despair, which is replaced by curiosity, happiness and a zest for life.

Buy The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Yoga of Max’s Discontent by Karan Bajaj

YogaI kind of love the pun in the title. Other than that the story has nothing to do with Steinbeck or Shakespeare.

This book might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for others it may be a door to a certain level of understanding. I suppose that will depend on how much a reader has contemplated spirituality, self and/or life.

What is it about? Enlightenment and self-discovery. A trip to discover the meaning of self and life.

You don’t need extensive knowledge of yoga or meditation to read this, although it might add an extra element of understanding if you do.

Max comes to a crossroads on his personal path in life. Perhaps it is the death of his mother that brings everything to a head. His past, present and future flashes before his eyes and suddenly he knows it’s now or never.

He leaves everything behind him, after a conversation with a lightly clad man in the middle of cold city. Viveka sees a kindred spirit in Max and says something life-changing to the young man. Max leaves family, friends, a high-paying job, his apartment and his country soon after.

On a personal level I really enjoyed the deep insight into the yoga and meditation, especially the yoga. It made me look at it from a completely different perspective. Not just relaxation, exercise or plain old balance.

You can tell the story is also a personal journey for the author, which makes the insights so much more enlightening and approachable, despite the surrounding fictional story. An unusual and different kind of read.

Buy The Yoga of Max’s Discontent at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Girl from Cobb Street by Merryn Allingham

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Allingham gives the reader and interesting insight into the strict and oppressive rules amongst the British military in India. The unwritten rules of society and class structure. The wives must always bow down to the will of the wife, who is married to the higher ranking soldier.

Any slight, insult or offence committed by any wife can have a knock-on effect on the husband and his career. Then there are the rules about associating with the natives or the Indian officers, even the so-called Anglo-Indians are off-limits for the British officers and wives. A very racist and biased environment, which probably also played a role in the revolt of the native population.

The women are expected to be waited on hand and foot by servants, regardless of whether they can do or are used to doing certain work themselves. Everything is about image and perception.

Daisy finds it hard to deal with doing nothing at all and refuses to tow the line like the other women. She starts finding herself in precarious situations and odd accidents start to happen. Until she suspects that the accidents aren’t just coincidences. Daisy finds herself mixed up in an unexpected and dangerous situation with no salvation in sight.

At the end of this first book in the Daisy’s War series I think it is fair to say that as a reader I would like to delve more deeply into the story of Daisy’s parentage. Her story seems to infer a connection to India, one that would explain her less than English rose complexion perhaps.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Harlequin UK and Harlequin MIRA.