The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce

A first novel for Rachel Joyce which is both charming, poignant and at times even comical and which makes you think about lost opportunities, changing one’s life and even making a difference in the future.

Harold Fry and his wife Maureen live a life of retirement in Devon when Harold receives a letter from his old work colleague, Queenie Hennessy, who is dying in a hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Harold writes a reply and on his way to the post box he decides to continue walking and deliver it in person! Totally unprepared for a walk of this length, inadequately dressed for the  distance and inclement weather of Britain, his heart rules that these are inconsequential hurdles in his quest to make Queenie live to see him again.

Maureen, his wife, is left to ponder what remains of their marriage and whether there is anything left worth saving. They have one adult son, David, who whilst he is in contact with his mother on the telephone is estranged from his father for reasons that contribute greatly to Harold’s state of mind. (Don’t want to give too much away here!)

Confronting one’s demons is a general theme in this book and even the part where the media circus finds Harold and disrupts his simple desire to walk to Queenie on his own without imposing himself on anyone is a remarkable insight into the world we live in today for virtually nothing goes without being recorded and it is nearly impossible to achieve anonymity whilst doing something so praiseworthy and fascinating.

I would have liked to give this book 4.5 stars but WordPress does not allow this so I am going to give it 4 stars simply because, whilst beautifully written, at certain points it was not a page turner for me however I enjoyed reading it hugely and greatly look forward to more from this author.