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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
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There are times in the lives of most people when we wish for a "do-over" or that some magical bargaining will change the course of things. Harold Fry, a retiree stuck in a life which he never really anticipated, slips into this belief after receiving a letter from Queenie, a former work colleague, who is in hospice. A chance encounter while walking to the mailbox to mail his reply keeps him walking as he heads from Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed, believing that as long as he keeps walking Queenie will stay alive.

The journey turns out to be more than 600 miles, for it takes Harold back through his life, remembering, ruminating, and reconnecting with various bits. It also peels away much of his protective shell (as it peels away his poor feet, for he set out on the journey in the clothes he was wearing to post the letter, no phone, and no map) through his encounters with the various individuals he meets.

The story captivated me, both Harold's and that of his wife Maureen. I wondered what could have possibly happened to turn the love that was so evident in Harold's memories into the estranged couple who happened to occupy the same home. Their history unfolds gently, then regroups, and reforms, carrying the reader along. I found myself rooting for Harold, step by step, as his journey sparks, flounders, and pushes on; rooting for Maureen, as she braves up and faces the things in her life that have made her stolid and grumpy; rooting for Queenie as well. Plus, there were some utterly delicious expressions in the writing, some that just delighted me and others that made me think "Yes! I know that feeling! Exactly!"

This is a love story, but not the one you might think, hearing of a man rushing off to walk to the bedside of a dying woman he once knew. It's an unlikely one, which results from the unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry.


Thanks to Library Thing Early Reviewers and Random House for the chance to read this AR copy of the book. I really think this book is a 4.5, but not a 5, so hence the 4 star rating.
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Reading Progress

05/13/2012 page 26
8.0% ""His shirt, tie, and trousers were folded small as an apology on a faded blue velvet chair."

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