Gretchen Ingram's Reviews > The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
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's review
Mar 24, 12

bookshelves: first-reads, 2012-challenge, library
Read in March, 2012

I think that you should read this. Really. But not my copy- it's going in the library and may not ever get loaned out! I read it in three hours- couldn't put it down. And I will read it again, probably several times.

Rachel Joyce's debut novel is thought provoking, almost philosophical, without ever being preachy. Her characterization is masterful- these people will live for you. Her choice of the omniscient viewpoint is really the only one for this novel- no other point of view would give the complete story for much of the various journeys are as much mental as physical.

What is it about? It's about a man who goes to post a letter... and decides to post it at the next box... and then the next... and then a chance conversation makes up his mind to walk across England.

But what's it really about?
Communication, choices, friends, family... it's about how to die and how not to die and how to live and that it's never too late to start. It's about what real friends are, even if you only meet them once. It's about grieving and healing. It's about making promises and then keeping them. It's about unlikely everyday heroes.

What it's not about:
If you're looking for torrid affairs or fast action, this is not the book. Look elsewhere. If you're looking for a book that tells you there is a God and he makes everything ok in the end, this isn't that book either. Bad things happen- big tragic bad things and little worrisome bad things like a toothache and niggling little bad things that are just annoying. There's no villain- you're not going to hate anybody when you finish this book... but there are a lot of people you're going to be fond of- starting with Harold Fry.

What will happen is that you're going to cry, you're going to laugh and when you close the pages, you're going to think. And then, if you're like me, you're going to read it again.
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