I’ll start out by saying, no, this book is not a newly published one, but came out in 2012. I’ve just been behind on reading contemporary works until a few months ago because I’ve been reading so much for my university classes and nonfiction and spiritual books. Now, on with my very informal and basic review.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is one of the best books I’ve read in decades. It harkens back to the classic literary fiction of the ages, meshed with contemporary life. I hope that makes sense!
Short synopsis of the story via amazon:
Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. But before Harold mails off a quick reply, a chance encounter convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. In his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold Fry embarks on an urgent quest. Determined to walk six hundred miles to the hospice, Harold believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live.
I love stories of the human condition, the human spirit, and ones that have flickers of hope in them. They are beautiful, and this book is loaded with these elements. Also, I am one drawn in by writing style, beautiful prose in descriptions, etc. Some folks aren’t interested in that, but I am. The characters are quirky, endearing, and so very human.
The main character, Harold, is such a broken, beautiful soul with a gentle spirit. He decides to walk those six hundred miles to see Queenie, a former co-worker, with the belief that Queenie will live the months it takes for him to walk there and arrive.
Harold and his wife’s relationship is strained at the beginning of the book and little love is shown, and his wife experiences many different feelings dealing with his absence and her own thoughts of the past several decades.
Through the walk, Harold reminisces about his childhood and the past many decades, and encounters interesting people along the way.
Here’s a little review I wrote on it when I finished reading it a few weeks ago and posted in Goodreads:
The story is precious, touching, unique, and wonderful. It starts out at a good tempo and slows a little after a couple chapters in, but once you keep reading through those slower chapters, it continues to unfold like the blooming of a rose, with such sweetness and touching moments of the human struggle and spirit, that you become more and more drawn in. Lovely, beautiful, brilliant, and well worth the read and to own.
I highly recommend this book.
*You probably have already read this one, right? If you have, share your thoughts. If you haven’t, maybe you’d like to share your thoughts anyway. 🙂