Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce

This is a delightful, poignant tale of a retired couple, Harold and Maureen, living out their days in Devon, when something happens that will change their future. And it is such a small occurrence on the face of it – a letter arrives for Harold from a former colleague of his at the brewery, Queenie Hennessy. Harold writes a reply, and he sets off down the road to post it. But then he continues walking. And carries on walking, and it becomes his purpose to get to Queenie, to save her, all the hundreds of miles away up in a Hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed, on foot, in just his yachting shoes.

Beautifully understated, the story plays out so well, there is sadness, some very touching moments, and there is some very well-observed gentle humour too. For Harold, and for Maureen, there is the time and space to take stock and think about their lives together, their son David, and about the events in the past that have brought them to where they are now. Can things be different for them; can they heal the divide that has grown? The reader is not party to the full story until close to the end of the novel. So we can only guess at the reason behind Harold’s determination, whatever the odds, to get to Queenie, though we know it’s not romantic love.

There is hope despite the difficult times. There is some lovely prose as Harold recognises and admires the nature all around him. His journey becomes more than just one that concerns himself and Queenie; it grows to involve the people he meets on his way, such a variety, by and large he is enriched by his encounters and buoyed by them. He is taken into strangers’ confidences, and realises that so many people, despite appearances, have this inner torment that they carry with them. There are beautiful, simple but striking insights into humans, made through Harold.

This is a gentle, touching and rewarding tale, and what a promising first novel; it’s a real accomplishment. I feel sure very many readers will enjoy this.

Published in the UK by Doubleday on 15th March 2012.


  1. That's a lovely review! I'll add this to my To Order list.

  2. I wasn't sure whether to read your review or not seeing as it's on my TBR ... but couldn't help myself Lins :)

    Excellent review, thank you. I shall look forward to reading it x (Blogger not letting me comment with Wordpress so hooping it will with Google account!) Shaz @ Jera's Jamboree

  3. Thanks, Eugenia, very kind of you. It's a nice read.

  4. I like quiet little books like this, thanks for the recommendation :)

  5. Hello Lindsay
    You have a interesting blog,I'm new follower(221),thanks for following my blog.
    Have a nice weekend

  6. Sam it's a nice one this, and Silvy thanks for your lovely comment and for following.


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