Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
by Rachel Joyce
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-8129-9329-5
Buy from Indigo

Description: Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him—allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

The Good Stuff
  • So incredibly good I could not put it down even though it was 2am and I had to get up at 6am
  • This one will win awards people 
  • So honest and real and makes you self reflect on your own life
  • I was bawling on many occasions (but I was smart this time I read this kind of book at home)
  • Harold is such a fascinating character - so very real - warts and all  - the type of man we all have met in some point in our own lives
  • So honestly portrays grief, guilt and forgiveness
  • So many wonderful insights about life
  • Uncomfortable to read at times as it makes you look into yourself and the see some of the misplaced anger and resentment that can occur in a marriage and the joys and horror of raising a child
  • I am having a really difficult time expressing how incredibly wonderful book this is, but I was incredibly moved by it and well just go buy it already (or of course support your local library and check out a copy & be really nice to the library staff as they most likely are incredibly awesome)
  • some wonderful light humour perfectly placed at the spot that you need it most

The Not So Good Stuff
  • some minor repetition but nothing too bad
  • It will break your heart (again not really a bad thing more a warning really)
  • So good once you start reading you will not want to put it down -- Rachel Joyce you owe me some very strong tea I was up till the wee hours of the morning reading it

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"He had never been good at expressing himself. What he felt was so big it was difficult to find the words, and even if he could, it was hardly appropriate to write them to someone he had not contacted in twenty years."

"They believed in him. They had looked at him in his yachting shoes, and listened to what he said, and they made a decision in their hearts and minds to ignore the evidence and to imagine something bigger and something infinitely more beautiful than the obvious."

"He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others.  As a passerby, he was in a place where everything, not only the land, was open. People would feel free to talk, and he was free to listen.  To carry a little of them as he went.  He had neglected so many things that he owed this small piece of generosity to Queenie and the past."

"He had learned that it was the smallness of people that filled him with wonder and tenderness, and the loneliness of that too.  The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had been doing so for a long time. Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and this was the dilemma of being human."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Anyone and everyone should read
  • If you like non stop action and plenty of sex -- well this IS NOT the book for you -- this is a book that you should read and discuss
  • Excellent read for a book club - so many honest discussions could arise from it
  • Know what I am getting for the SIL and sister this year for xmas -- shhh don't tell them!
5 Dewey's

I picked this up at BEA and it is signed by the author


  1. I'm so glad that this book is living up to expectations. This has been on my To-Be-Read shelf on Goodreads for a few months, and I'm just now realizing that it's actually been released for two weeks! Agh! Why isn't this in my hands already?!

    – Rick @

  2. Hope by now you have started to read it LOL - it's so good - one of my fav this year