Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

image by LibraryThing
I want to start out by saying this is one of my favorite books!  I LOVED it!

Now - you can decide if you want to continue to read this to see why, or if you just want to go out and find the book to experience it on your own.  Your choice - but I would recommend one or the other!!

This is the story of a journey by a rumpled, stoic, retired, non-starter named Harold Fry.  In the first pages he receives a letter from a woman - Queenie Hennessy to thank him for his friendship and to tell him she is dying.

Harold rushes to write a reply and tells his wife he is going to the mailbox to send it.  But, he isn't ready to stop walking at the mailbox - so he continues across town passing postbox after postbox and at each one he feels the need to continue moving.  And that is how his 500+ mile journey to deliver his letter to Queenie in person begins.

His pilgrimage begins in a flurry of self-righteous stupidity - sounds like too many of my self-help journeys! :)  He relishes the simplicity and the ease and all the new truths surrounding him.  Then it gets hard and he must depend on the help of strangers.  Then the help of strangers becomes his new focus - he is saving them by allowing them to help him.  Then things become a bit commercialized and he looses himself in the process.  Then everything falls apart and he is left bare and old and withered and the journey is still in front of him.

And when he arrives at the end of his journey...then what...

This is a story of a man and his marriage and his son and his mother and father and the life that he has so carefully created in a very English way.  This is the story of what happens when you dare to step aside and really feel what is around you.

I dearly loved Harold - but honestly I loved Maureen, his wife, every bit as much.  Maureen must watch and wait and remember and choose to live.  Her pilgrimage takes place in her small cottage while she cleans and disinfects and eventually takes down the net curtains and lets the sun into the 'best room.'

Please read this!!!

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