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Discussion Archives > June 2013: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

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message 1: by Rachel Jorquera , Moderator (new)


message 2: by Olivia (new)

Olivia Leland (olivia_soule) | 7 comments Sorry that I read this first and out of order, but this was one of the best books I've ever read. Harold pulled my heart out and tore it to shreds and carefully put it back together. But I'm still a little raw


message 3: by Margot (last edited Jun 14, 2013 11:21PM) (new)

Margot (margotmontreal) | 165 comments The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Rachel Joyce
5*****

Olivia wrote: "Sorry that I read this first and out of order, but this was one of the best books I've ever read. Harold pulled my heart out and tore it to shreds and carefully put it back together. But I'm still ..."

I don't really understand why you apologize for reading this first and out of order Olivia. But I am new to the group and maybe I missed something...?
However I totally agree with you. This is a very good book and I am happy to say I would not have read it if it was not for this group, so thank you Coffee & Books!

(view spoiler)
I don't want to write too much right away, but I have taken notes while I was reading and I will be happy to discuss further more during the month (besides I want to make sure that html spoiler worked!)


message 4: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 22 comments I just finished the book, what a beautiful piece of work! It's amazing what it takes for you to rediscover things you had taken for granted. The story was well written, and left me feeling content. It's so sad it took twenty years to really deal with a terrible tragedy.


message 5: by Sheena (new)

Sheena Davis (sheenad) | 121 comments I've just started (only about 40 pages read) and am really enjoying the book so far.

What is it about Harold that is so endearing? Only a few chapters in I can't stop myself from cheering him on.


message 6: by Olivia (new)

Olivia Leland (olivia_soule) | 7 comments The more I read about him the more I just wanted to hug him.


message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 22 comments Olivia wrote: "The more I read about him the more I just wanted to hug him."

You just can't help cheering him on along the way!


message 8: by Margot (new)

Margot (margotmontreal) | 165 comments Olivia wrote: "The more I read about him the more I just wanted to hug him."

Olivia, I felt the same way. I had a clear picture of him in my head and he was so endearing...


message 9: by Sylvie (new)

Sylvie (frqs37) | 85 comments (will be careful not to include spoilers but I believe a discussion also entails some comments about the story itself so... After all, if one has not read the book yet, maybe it's better not to read the comments under the June book name, no? ;-) So I'll go ahead and ask all a question because I'm not sure of how I feel about this book yet.)

I did love this book for it's structure. You don't get to learn what happened to David until the last steps of Harold's pilgrimage and it's interesting to compare to the beginning of the book when Maureen keeps talking to her son.

Now about Harold, my only issue is... has he really progressed through his walk? Has he really changed?

He does meet people during his walk but he interacts minimally with them. He bears their pain which makes him think deeper of his own but he does not talk with them to bring them peace other than for the girl in the garage. And this later proved to be a fake as related to Maureen. So was the author telling us that what we say and how we empathize with others more important than truth to get peace and a better understanding of one self?

Is this the message the author wants us to remember that listening will ultimately win over talking and that a physical effort in isolation sometimes give us the answer more than the hustle and bustle of life?
I think so but does it makes us change?

Ultimately when Harold meets Queenie he does not say thank you for what she has done for him other than keeping to banalities, does he not? And his wife says I love you but does he? I still feel he lets life pass him by as a bystander even at the end. Don't you think so?
So maybe, the message the author sends us is that the physical effort in isolation makes us better understand the past and our interaction with people, but change is still a way to reach.
Your thoughts?


message 10: by Cathie (new)

Cathie (catitude) | 46 comments I finished this book a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it. What a lovely story about a man deciding to do something that makes no sense to anyone else except himself. Sometimes we just need to do that, don't we?

I think Harold is so encased in his own grief and disappointments in himself that he finds it hard to openly communicate "feelings" of any real depth. I think his journey was about himself finding out about himself, not about others, which in the long run probably has always been Harold Fry's problem ~ his total focus on himself.


message 11: by Olivia (new)

Olivia Leland (olivia_soule) | 7 comments (SPOILERS)
I feel like this could be seen almost as a coming of age story. From what I saw, we had the mentality of a child because of his social anxiety and repression of steel. He tried hard to forget anything that would define him as an "adult" (i.e. his son's suicide, sexuality, etc.). As he gets closer to his destination, he lets go of his suppression and allow him to not only remember his past, but accept it. He no longer places all the blame on himself, but accepts what he has done and moves past it. It not longer haunts him, but becomes one of his past chapters. It is only when he's accepted his flaws that he finally attains happiness and reconciles a marriage that he has been in disconnect for 20+ years. This walk moved him forward both mentally and physically. I personally believe he wouldn't have been able to exist without it.


message 12: by Margot (new)

Margot (margotmontreal) | 165 comments

To me, it did not feel right when other people joined Harold's journey. It was his story, not theirs and I felt they had no place in it. And of course the bigger it got, the more irritated I felt. I was so relieved when they left him alone. I was sorry to see that he had lost his momentum and that the end of the walk was so hard for him. To me, Harold was a very ordinary man who became extraordinary and the author made him likeable despite his weaknesses.


message 13: by Cathie (new)

Cathie (catitude) | 46 comments I'm with you Margot; it reminded me of the part in the Forest Gump movie when he was doing the run for himself and everyone joined in because they thought it "meant" something.

Isn't that like life though; you get a whole bunch of hanger-on's around you when you are in the middle of something, but towards the end people give up and move on to the next "interesting" thing.


message 14: by Sylvie (new)

Sylvie (frqs37) | 85 comments What is interesting is Harold again has no opinion on people joining them until it becomes a bother. So he seems to still have this non-interactive personality he had with his family. So how is that walk changing him other than physically? Comments?


message 15: by Sylvie (new)

Sylvie (frqs37) | 85 comments What is interesting is Harold again has no opinion on people joining them until it becomes a bother. So he seems to still have this non-interactive personality he had with his family. So how is that walk changing him other than physically? Comments?


message 16: by Margot (last edited Jun 22, 2013 11:21PM) (new)

Margot (margotmontreal) | 165 comments I think this journey is very personal for Harold and he wants to keep it that way. In the beginning, he talked about it a lot to strangers, but once they become involved, he retires in himself. He doesn't really understand why all those people want to go with him and "save Quennie"! Frankly I don't either. This happened at a time when he had found his pace and his walk was going well. They disturb his pace and also his peace. I can understand that. He does not ask them to leave out of respect, but he really would rather be alone. Personally, they disturbed ME even more than they did Harold.
I don't think Harold intended necessarily to "change" with his journey, but I think he did just by undertaking that trip, something very spontaneous (he doesn't strike me as a spontaneous man) and by sticking to it to the end.
However I must say I am not a reader who tries to find out what the author was trying "to tell me or to teach me". I worked in science all my life and to me the arts, whether its dance, music, literature, are very intuitive. I like it or I don't, but the part about looking for the message the author is trying to convey is to scholarly for me.


message 17: by Cathie (new)

Cathie (catitude) | 46 comments I saw the walk as changing Harold in that he realizes he can't do "it" ie life, the journey, etc. on his own (the help of his wife in rescuing him at the hotel, etc.) but in the end he alone completes the journey and has to take ownership for what the experience has taught him.


message 18: by Teneal (new)

Teneal | 231 comments Margot wrote: "

To me, it did not feel right when other people joined Harold's journey. It was his story, not theirs and I felt they had no place in it. And of course the bigger it got, the more irritated I felt..."


I agree! When everyone joined him I just wanted to tell them to p*** off! haha. Some of them may have been in it for the right reasons but some (ie. Rich) annoyed me and seemed to just be joining in for the publicity. Grrr. Leave poor Harold alone.


message 19: by Dreama (new)

Dreama Collins (dreamacollins) I am picking this book up from the library today. Just joined this group looking forward to getting into some good reads :)


message 20: by Claire (new)

Claire Dobson | 15 comments A beautiful book which warms the heart .... brilliant!


message 21: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 1153 comments Margot wrote: "However I must say I am not a reader who tries to find out what the author was trying "to tell me or to teach me". I worked in science all my life and to me the arts, whether its dance, music, literature, are very intuitive. I like it or I don't, but the part about looking for the message the author is trying to convey is to scholarly for me. ..."

Some years ago I went to see an author at my local bookstore. This was for her second or third book, but people still wanted to know about her experience having an earlier book selected by Oprah. She commented that a few weeks before taping the show, Oprah called her to go over some questions and prepare for the show. The author reminded us that from the time her book was written to editing and publishing and then being chosen by Oprah was a couple of years, and she was already deeply immersed in another book-writing project by this time. Anyway, Oprah begins asking questions and then comes to this one: "What was the significance of the white cat?" The author's response: "There was a cat in my book?!"


message 22: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 1153 comments I really enjoyed this book. Here is an excerpt from my review

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce
4****
As unlikely as this pilgrimage is, the insights Harold gains from hours alone with his thoughts are life-changing. Along the way he meets a wide variety of characters that help or hinder him on his journey. All of them give him something to consider and reflect upon as he recalls the events in his past that have led him to this place in life. There is something about Harold that will appeal to a wide range of readers. He is unassuming, always kind, determined, steadfast, puzzled by life’s conundrums, afraid to offend, humble in accepting help. He also wallows in self-pity and remorse for past deeds. And he has a difficult time saying he is sorry and making amends. As exasperated as I was by Harold’s wishy-washy attitude and lack of confidence, I grew to love him and my heart broke for him as I learned how he had lost his way.

As personal as the pilgrimage is, it equally affects his wife Maureen. Left at home wondering where things have gone wrong, she slowly comes to some significant realizations of her own. Her own epiphany is as moving as Harold’s.

By the end of the book I felt privileged to have made the pilgrimage along with Harold.

Link to my full review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Book Concierge wrote: " Anyway, Oprah begins asking questions and then comes to this one: "What was the significance of the white cat?" The author's response: "There was a cat in my book?!"

That reminds me of when my mum had gone back to school and they had been studying poetry. There was this poem about an eagle and the teacher said "Of course the eagle actually symbolises...". During the course there was a tv interview with the poet about his work so my mum watched it. The interviewer brought up the eagle poem and said "Of course the eagle actually symbolises...". The poet replied "No, it's about an eagle. I like eagles. I think they are majestic creatures."


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I loved this book. I can also highly recommend her latest book Perfect. Although, I don't think it will be released in the US until next year.


message 25: by Margot (new)

Margot (margotmontreal) | 165 comments I love Book Concierge and Pigletto's comments :-)
I think one book can bring something different to each and every reader, depending on where they are in their lives, what experiences they had and how they are feeling at the time they are reading the book. And sometimes, the only thing a book brings you is pleasure; and to me, that's fine. But I was never good at symbolism. Thank you for making me feel less "out of it"!


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