Book Review: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper – Phaedra Patrick

Losing a loved one is bad enough, but what if you found out that person had a whole other life before you? What would you do? It had been a year since Arthur Pepper’s beloved wife, Miriam, passed away. On the anniversary of her death, he decides to clear out her things and get closure. As he’s doing so, he finds a small box with a gold charm bracelet in it. Thus unfold a series of events that will change Arthur’s life forever.

Forty years of marriage. Eight golden charms. One man’s journey of discovery.

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The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper / Pic: noinpart

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Hired Bride – Noelle Adams

I prefer reading books the traditional way; by flipping page after page of sumptuous words oozing emotions. Hired Bride, the first book in the Beaufort Brides series, came to me through Kindle, a medium that I’ve struggled to accept because of my snobby attitude and preference to paper books. My book challenge for this year is 52 books in 52 weeks. Thus, I was determined to read no matter the medium or genre.

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The Girl He Left Behind – Shilpa Suraj

My association with a Mills & Boon novel began when I was 8 or 9. My sister, a voracious bookworm, always had her abnormally large nose stuck between the pages of some or the other book. The covers of these books were fascinating; a shirtless, muscular man with his strong arms around the delicate frame of a semi-naked woman. In India, we have more watered down versions of these books and their covers; a fair (which is important), thin, and well-dressed maiden touching a fair (again, important), well-built gentleman. This is why I stay away from these books.

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Our female protagonist is Sia Sharma, a successful editor at a huge publishing house. I know it’s huge because size really matters. Mr. Knight in Tight Clothes is Ryan Mathur, a self-made success story waiting to be replicated by gullible readers. Ryan, being an emotional wreck with a really dark secret dumps Sia one day, without giving her a chance to ask follow-up questions. This would, obviously, taper the number of pages so we are left with feeling “What the front door?”

Six years on, Sia is divorced from an abusive douchebag and is blissfully enjoying her singlehood while still pining for Ryan. Conveniently, he’s hired by Sia’s agency to create a marketing campaign for Nisha Malik, an author who is, like every other female character in the novel, attracted to Ryan. Seeing her true love (obviously) brings out Sia’s suppressed feelings. Now, it’s up to her to decide whether she’ll listen to her heart and let him back into her life or her head and keep it at “just friends”.

The protagonists are young and highly successful, the former being the demographic of its intended group of readers. To show that Sia is more than a sculpted enchantress; the author has her change a tyre and refuse help offered by Ryan’s friend, Adarsh. Thus, we are assured she is a “beauty with brains”. Besides a hot bod, Ryan is blessed with only 2 emotions, anger and confusion.

Supporting characters only appear when the scene calls for it. They have no role other than to be at the protagonists’ beck and call. To be fair, they are not boring. Ryan’s parents are dramatic, Sia’s are more easy-going, Minty is sympathetic, Nisha is brazen, and Adarsh is happy-go-lucky.

Misunderstandings that crop up are not tactfully handled. Rather than being a conversation, it becomes a scene with one person talking and the other person either leaving or the scene ending. And due to this, it becomes more of a “will they, won’t they” scenario. Their emotions do not justify their actions. For example, why didn’t Ryan tell Sia the real reason he’s breaking up with her? They’ve been friends since school. Doesn’t she deserve a little more information than some vague non-reply and an escape for 6 years? They break up, and chapter 2, it’s 6 years later. Ekta Kapoor would have approved.

The writing is simple and easy to understand though it is often burdened by its innumerable clichés which put you at the centre of a Bollywood movie script.

Let me list the clichés that this novel has.

  • Leads who would have definitely won Miss World and Mr. Universe based on their descriptions.
  • A female friend of the female lead who understands every emotion of the leads.
  • Goofy man Friday of the male lead. Always arguing with female lead’s best friend.
  • The protagonist has a heart of gold as she regularly visits an old age home.
  • Sympathetic parent.
  • An evil or abusive ex.
  • Almost kisses.
  • Saying “This is a mistake” or “That was a mistake” right after a kiss.
  • A family conflict that takes up way more dramatic ingredients than is required.
  • Cunning female anti-lead who has the hots for Mr. Drop Dead Gorgeous.
  • Catching a lead in a compromising position with the cunning vamp.
  • Sex that’s so passionate and orgasmic in words that will put many erotic fiction writers to shame.

Ironically, there’s a line in the book that says, “Clichés are clichés for a reason. They work.” In India, they work all the time. Many authors seem to benefit from them.

Indian readers who love a good romantic drama will thoroughly enjoy this book. It has all the makings of a nice love story with a pinch of conflict and a whole lot of emotions.

Genre: Romance.

Overall Experience: Satisfactory.

Coraline – Neil Gaiman: A Review

Would you forgo your current life if you found a better one on the ‘other’ side? That’s the question that Coraline is subjected to initially. When she answers in the negative, things turn sour. Now, she has to outwit the sinister beings posing as her other mother and other father who want her to stay with them forever.

“You’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”

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