The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
By Rachel Joyce
(Random House, Hardcover, 9780812993295, July 24, 2012, 336pp.)
The Short of It:
Beauty is sometimes obvious and at other times, more difficult to come by but as this novel unfolds… so does its beauty. What a gem!
The Rest of It:
Harold Fry and his wife Maureen live in a small English village. Retired and in their sixties, their lives are filled with the routines of the day, but deep inside they are both agonizing over what was…and can’t seem to figure out what to do next. Things have gotten so bad between them, that Maureen sleeps in the guest room and cannot stand the sight of him. Harold, although agreeable and always the gentleman, is okay with the situation which angers Maureen even more.
One day, Harold receives a letter from an old colleague by the name of Queenie Hennessey. The letter is brief, but devastating. Queenie is terminally ill and writing from a hospice. With only so many days to live, the letter serves as her goodbye to him. At first his plan is to send her a quick reply, but on his way to the post office he decides to just keep walking.
This book was spectacularly good but in the most quiet way possible. When Harold sets off in nothing but yachting shoes and the clothes on his back, you can’t help but feel his desperation. How bad can it be for a person to just walk away from life? But Harold doesn’t leave Maureen. Instead, he sees it as a remedy for everything that’s gone wrong. It’s a way to keep Queenie alive and it’s a way for him to remember how it used to be. Throughout the trip, Harold is plagued by memories both good and bad and in between them, are his moments with Maureen by phone.
As Harold makes his way to Queenie, he encounters many characters along the way. Most of them kind, all of them supportive. He is touched by the kindness of strangers and even though his body seems to be on the brink of falling apart, he continues to push himself on not really knowing what he’ll encounter once he gets there, but knowing that this journey is one of the most important ones he’ll ever make.
At the same time, Maureen is left to wonder about her own life and where she stands in all of this. Not really given a choice in the matter, she decides to sit tight and wait for a sign. The sign comes in the form of a well-meaning neighbor. A neighbor who has a knack for providing the right advice at exactly the right time. With his help, she works to see the journey through Harold’s eyes.
I adored this book. It was lovely and charming and one of those “complete package” reads that you just want to kiss and tuck under your pillow. I felt good and sad and happy and mad. It took me up and down and I loved every minute of it. It will absolutely be on my list of favorites for 2012.
If you’ d like a chance to kiss it and tuck it under your pillow, enter the giveaway for a chance to win your own copy! Details below.
To view Rachel’s other TLC tour stops, click here.
This giveaway is for one copy of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and is open to the US only (no PO boxes). A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from the publisher. Only one entry per person. Giveaway closes on July 29, 2012 (pacific). I will contact the winner.
To enter the giveaway, please click here. (This giveaway has closed!)