Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce


Title: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Author: Rachel Joyce
Copyright: March 15, 2012
Genre: fiction
Format: book  Pages: 320

This was a book club selection for August. I checked it out of the library since all of the digital copies were out.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old friend in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.

Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie–who is 600 miles away–because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die.

So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories–flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband.

Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband’s sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?

My Thoughts:

I thought this book started out fine and then slowed for me a little bit then about half way through it picked up a bit and then I began to enjoy the story. I liked reading about the small English village in which Harold lived. But the mystery of Harold’s relationship with Queenie piqued my interest throughout the book.

Reading about the people that Harold meets along the way, was also moved the story along. Something that seemed so crazy like walking such a distance began to unfold into much more. The solitary walks gave Harold time to work through his life issues and to really connect with nature. They helped him to explore the relationship between Harold and his wife, Harold and Queenie and Harold with the people he meets on his journey.

I would not ordinarily pick up this book to read but that is the beauty of a book club. They can take you out of your comfort zone. That said, I would like to give this book 3 butterflies.

Happy Reading!



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