An introverted librarian opens a book into a fantasy world that also reveals secrets from her grandmother’s past in this pleasing novel from Patrick (Rise and Shine). In addition to volunteering at the library, Martha Storm also helps the people in her small, unnamed seaside village with small tasks. With her parents long dead, she lives in her childhood home, surrounded by her neighbor’s stuff that she has promised to mend and store. One evening, after returning from the library, she finds a small package at her door containing a book of fantastical short stories. Inside is a handwritten inscription from her grandmother Zelda, who died under mysterious circumstances years before the date of the inscription. Martha sets off to discover where the mysterious book came from and what happened to her grandmother, the one person who ever encouraged her to explore her creativity. Along with a handful of quirky supporting characters—including divorcée Brenda, bookseller and fellow book lover Owen, and lovesick Suki—Martha breaks out of her shell as she starts to piece together her grandmother’s life in the small village. With a happy ending that is hinted from the beginning, Patrick’s novel is just the kind of charming story Martha loves to read. (Mar.)
Phaedra Patrick has written a hymn to books and how they can bring love—even miracles—into your life.” —Antoine Laurain, author of The Red Notebook
“An introverted librarian opens a book into a fantasy world that also reveals secrets from her grandmother's past... [A] charming story.” —Publishers Weekly
"Sometimes a book comes along at exactly the right moment. The Library of Lost and Found pulled me with a little family mystery, and filled me with warm fuzzies at the end—exactly what I needed. Phaedra Patrick's characters are vibrant, quirky, and real, and you'll be cheering for Martha as she discovers who she really is." —Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go
Praise for The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
"Phaedra Patrick understands the soul. Eccentric, charming, and wise... This book will illuminate your heart." —Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop
"Tender, insightful, and surprising, this wonderful debut novel is a stunning addition to the popular genre of transformative stories of otherwise uneventful lives. It will instantly capture the hearts of readers who loved Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry of Harold Fry, Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop, and Antoine Laurain's The Red Notebook." —Library Journal, starred review
"[A] charming, unforgettable story.” —Harper’s Bazaar
"A laugh-out-loud, globe-trotting adventure... A witty, joyful read." —Bustle
"An endearing celebration of life." —RealSimple.com
"When Arthur's grief overwhelms him... it pierces the heart. You root for him every step of the way." —BookPage
"As cozy and fortifying as a hot cup of tea on a cold afternoon." —Kirkus Reviews
"Once in a great while, a character like Arthur Pepper comes along and quietly steals your heart. Arthur might make you cry - but he'll also make you laugh, think, and feel grateful that you came along on his fantastical journey." —Sarah Pekkanen, bestselling author ofThings You Won't Say
"Charming by name, charming by nature, this book is a balm for the soul and the heart." —The Sun, 5 stars
"It's a sweet quest and a thoughtful reminder that sometimes the person who loves us most knows us better than we know ourselves." —Marthastewartweddings.com
"Patrick's debut evokes whimsy and poignancy.... This is a sweet story." —Publishers Weekly
“A delightful novel.” —San Francisco Book Review
“A feel-good story with oodles of charm.” —The Daily Mail
“[An] endearing adventure.” —Woman’s Day
Martha Storm, a volunteer librarian for a small village library, is unable to say no. She has filled her house with projects she's taken on for friends and colleagues and is beginning to be a bit of a hoarder. However, when a book of fairy stories arrives on her doorstep, her world begins to change. The volume is inscribed to her by her grandmother, believed to have died years ago. But did she? Clues in the book lead Martha on a quest to discover the truth about her beloved grandmother and realities about her family that have been long hidden. The deeper she digs, the wider the world opens for her, bringing new experiences and joys beyond her wildest imagination. VERDICT Patrick (Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone; The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper) has once again crafted a heartwarming and tender tale of growth and redemption. Martha is a charming character whose journey of becoming is welcomed by all around her. Curl up by the fire with a cup of tea and a biscuit and be entranced by this delightful story. [See Prepub Alert, 10/1/18.]—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA
A mousy, lovelorn librarian uncovers her family's well-kept secrets, finding herself in the process.
Martha Storm has spent her life in the English coastal town of Sandshift, catering to the needs and whims of others. The library's denizens, the library manager, even her own sister, Lilian, take shameless advantage of her. In her younger days, Martha, now middle-aged, let the love of her life slip away, choosing to move in with and care for her aging parents. They're gone now, as is her eccentric grandma Zelda, the only person who ever seemed to understand and protect her. Zelda also encouraged her gift for storytelling, which Martha has long since abandoned. One day, a book turns up with a curious inscription and the unmistakable suggestion that her beloved Nana may still be alive. Though Lilian pooh-poohs the discovery, Martha finds the gumption to get to the bottom of the mystery. Like the author's previous novels (Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone, 2017, etc.), this one features a timid protagonist who must learn self-assertion. But here, charm is in short supply. Much of the action is predictable, the dialogue stilted: Children don't sound anything like children, and the library assistant, Suki, is given to unlikely malapropisms. The author juxtaposes scenes from Martha's childhood with the contemporary narrative, and her controlling, emotionally remote father comes off as a cardboard villain. Everything about this book is old-fashioned, so when the author inserts a couple of contemporary notes—a subplot involving a lesbian couple; a reference to Spotify—it feels jarring. The book also goes on a bit—the eleventh-hour plot turn involving the old fisherman Siegfried could have been condensed or cut.
Though the novel celebrates libraries and storytelling, the story it tells is not very satisfying.