Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Author: Rachel Joyce

Published: July 2012

What They Say: When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else's life.

'The odyssey of a simple man, original, subtle and touching'. - Claire Tomalin
'From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn't want to leave him. Impossible to put down.' - Erica Wagner, The Times

What Elaine Says: Charming and heartwarming are probably the two best words to describe this simple story of an elderly gentleman who decides to walk.

After receiving an unexpected letter from an old friend, Harold Fry leaves his house to post a reply only to end up walking the length of England to see her. Harold doesn't intend to do this and when he realises what he is doing, he doesn't know why he's doing it.  As the miles pass however, Harold reflects on his life and comes to understand the importance of what he's doing. He also meets some interesting characters along the way who touch his life in some way.

Another side of the story is told from the point of view of Harold's wife.  She is left behind and understands what he's doing no more than he does.  It's an interesting addition to have this viewpoint and in fact a lot of the emotional weight this book has, comes from having this side of the story included.

It really is just a lovely little novel.  It won't change the world but it will certainly make you think it's a beautiful, if complex, place to live for a little while.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is Rachel Joyce's first novel.  She is currently working on her second novel 'Perfect' and if it's anywhere near as heartwarming as this is, it will be well worth a read. 

Elaine's Rating:  8/10 

What Sheli Says: I really enjoyed this. I found some parts a little slow, but thought it was a heartwarming and lovely story.

There have been a lot of books of this kind around over the last couple of years and I don't really think that this one stands out from the crowd. However, it is enjoyable and well written and well worth reading.

Some parts of the story are really funny and overall it is a real feel-good uplifting type of story that makes you take a different view on human kind.

I received this as an advance review copy from Netgalley. 

Sheli's Rating: 7/10


“He must have driven this way countless times, and yet he had no memory of the scenery. He must have been so caught up in the day's agenda, and arriving punctually at their destination, that the land beyond the car had been no more than a wash of one green, and a backdrop of one hill. Life was very different when you walked through it.” 

“If we don't go mad once in a while, there's no hope.” 

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