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And I would walk 627 miles …

March 1, 2015

Rachel Joyce is a successful radio play writer for the BBC and “The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry” was her first novel. It is one of the books in our library in which several people have put comments on the “I’ve read this” sheet including ‘Amazing’, ‘Moving’, ‘Awesome read’, ‘Loved this story’ & ‘Captivating’. Well, I agree with them all. Rachel Joyce has chosen a storyline that might well have been too hard to bring off but has managed it brilliantly.

harold fryIt is inspirational without being sentimental or pious. Harold Fry is a mild, shy disappointment of a man – a failed father, a lack lustre husband, a retired and retiring chap who leaves home one morning & starts walking to a city 627 miles away.  There, a woman lies dying of cancer, whom he once knew, and who helped him by taking the blame at work for something that he did. This is his pilgrimage – the story of a walk that took 87 days and for which he  was totally unprepared – no proper shoes, no map, no raincoat, no mobile phone, no ready cash. He believes that so long as he keeps walking, the dying woman will find the will to live and await his arrival.

This is a story of hope, of courage, of friendship. Harold re-visits his life’s best and worst moments while his wife at home also comes to terms with her true feelings and begins to recognise that it takes two to make a marriage work. This is a lovely story because it’s about a very flawed man who is redeemed by his own brave, difficult but inspiring will to do what he has set out to do. Have a hankie handy!

– Janice

PS. The companion story “The love song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” by Rachel Joyce, is the story of the dying woman who Harold is trying to reach.  Go to Library Catalogue


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