Friday, December 28, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Title:  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Author:  Rachel Joyce
Publication Information: Random House, Inc. 2012. 265 pages

Book Source:  I read this book based on the description. The book came as a ebook edition from the library.

Favorite Quote:  "Harold thought of the people he had already met on his journey. All of them were different, but none struck him as strange. He considered his own life and how ordinary it might look from the outside, when really it held such darkness and trouble."

Harold Fry is old retired English gentlemen. He and his wife Maureen have spent most of their lives in the same house in a small village. Harold worked in one place until he retired. Now, he seems to do nothing much. Maureen keeps house. Their routine continues as it has for many years.

One day, Harold receives a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend. The letter informs that Queenie is dying and wishes Harold to know what his friendship meant. This seems to spur Harold out of himself. He starts off writing Queenie a letter and sets off to post it. Yet, somehow, that turns into his belief that if he walks to Queenie, he will somehow save her.

So, he sets off to walk over 500 miles. The book tells the story of this walk - the people he meets along the way, the people he leaves behind, and layer by layer, the story of Harold's own life. We see moments of joy and moments of such great sorrow.

Harold and Maureen are an "ordinary" couple leading an "ordinary" life in an "ordinary" small English village. Yet, as we learn in this book, no life is ordinary as it might appear from the surface. In every life comes joys and sorrows  and love and moments that make it extraordinary.

This story of ordinary people turns out surprisingly be an extraordinary tale that made me laugh and cry and care about the characters. This is Rachel Joyce's debut novel. I can't wait to see what she writes next.

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