Review: “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce

“…a poignant and moving story…”

While I was reading this warm and wonderful novel I had an atlas of England close at hand and kept track of the progress Harold Fry was making on his walking journey. It added another element of enjoyment to this simply fascinating story. Every once in a while my husband would come and ask me to show him how far Harold had walked. It gave us both a connection to the story and a means of discussing it.

At first you have to take the story at face value and just accept that Harold, or anybody, could make a momentous decision such as walking from one coast of England to the opposite coast almost into Scotland.  If you question the advisability of that decision so early on, you will probably never settle into the possibilities of Harold being successful at what he did.

A whim, a spur of the moment decision, completely unplanned and never before tried by Harold are just some of the descriptions for his unlikely idea.  Yet Harold knew the secret he held in his heart which made him desperate to see his former co-worker Queenie Hennessy before she died.

Along the way Harold’s journey touched the lives of everyone he came in contact with. Ultimately it touched the lives of people he would never even know. This journey didn’t just impact Harold and Queenie, it also concerned Maureen, Harold’s wife, who was left behind without even an explanation. What causes a marriage to come apart and will the walk change the lives of those involved in that marriage?

This is a poignant and moving story. It will definitely make you rethink grudges and petty differences you are holding on to. I loved the descriptions of the English countryside with the trees and flowers and wildlife Harold came to know. I was awed by the descriptions of the quiet and the noise and the solitude and the congestion Harold found. I actually found myself concerned about the blisters on Harolds feet. But mostly I was encouraged by how people reacted to Harold on his heartrending, impossible, beautiful pilgrimage. What a marvelous reading experience this was.

4 thoughts on “Review: “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce

  1. Thank you for this review. You’ve definitely piqued my interest on a book I would have never heard of. Now it has been added to my must read list. And I so like the idea of tracking his travels with a map.

  2. My copy is still out and circulating with friends.

    Melissa, on Goodreads do you get the shelf ready copy of the book or do you get an ARC? Is it an ebook or a print copy? I’ve been signed up with Goodreads for years but their site intimidates me so much I’ve never gone but once. More and more often Amazon Vine copies are coming with a “non-cover”. Since I remember books by the cover art more than the title or author that’s making things a little difficult for me.

  3. Pingback: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry « The JK Review

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