Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a review

I rarely write a review of a book from my everyday reading these days but I did want to share about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

My friend, Heather, wrote that she was reading it on her blog Blackberry Rambles.  We have very similar tastes in books so I mentioned to her that I would like to read it someday. 

It should have come as no surprise to find a package in my mailbox one day containing this book, a note, and some tea.  Heather is the same "Blog daughter" who put together the wedding recovery box for me (now two years ago!).

When I finished the book I'd received from a publisher to review, I started reading this book.  I'd been warned by Heather and a few of my blog readers that it starts out kind of slow.  It does.  But with their encouragement, I kept reading.

Then there came the day.  That day when the book was carried with me to the kitchen as I checked the progress of dinner.  It was set aside so it didn't get wet when I washed dishes.  I was annoyed by the buzzer in the garage, telling me the dryer had complete its' cycle.  What took me a couple days to read in the beginning took but a day to finish reading.

I literally could not put it down.

The book is about a recently retired man who receives a letter from a woman he had worked with twenty years previously.  She is dying of cancer and wanted to say goodbye.  Harold writes a brief note back to her and leaves his home to drop it in the mailbox.  He passes the first mailbox and keeps walking.  He passes the second and keeps walking.  He would not return home for a very long time.

At first the reader is bewildered as to why Harold would do this.  But as he walks, he remembers.  He recalls the painful childhood that shaped the man he became.  He remembers good times and bad times and tragic times.

He meets interesting people and begins to notice the beauty of England that surrounds him, especially outside of the cities. 

Back home his wife is at first alarmed, then angered, and then begins her own journey to finding the woman she had been in her youth.  That person she had been before the circumstances of life left her battered and bruised emotionally.

The reader "remembers" as Harold does in his walk from the southern most point of England to the northern town.  At times I cried.  Often I laughed.  At least a couple of times I was shocked as he revealed the truth of past events.

I won't tell you any more about it.  If you plan to read it someday... do not read any spoilers before hand.  You want to journey along with Harold as his life is slowly revealed in the journey.

I will warn you, some of the people he meets on the way swear a lot.  Also, some memories are quite gritty and a few so heart wrenching you feel terrible... but only until the next chapter. 

Like all great works of fiction, the author uses the story to enable us to look at our own life.  It caused me to ponder a great deal.

I highly recommend The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (with the caveats listed already).  Oh... and it starts out slow.  That is okay.  Keep reading...

You can learn more about it... here.*

*Amazon Associate's link


Vee said...

Your reviews always make me want to read the book. Perhaps I'll just wait for the movie...has one been done? Don't answer, I'll Google. (I think the book sounds too intense for me just now.)

Heather LeFebvre said...

So glad you enjoyed it! I found the same experience while reading it. Such an unassuming book but it was so well written!!! I don't see how anyone could read it and not ponder their own life. And I certainly wanted to start walking more too!!!

becka said...

After you first mentioned this book I actually found a copy at my local thrift store. I just finished reading it yesterday. It is truly thought provoking and hard to put down once you get into it. Thank you for posting about it.

Anonymous said...

Sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Elizabeth in WA

Anonymous said...

Your earlier mention of this book intrigued me so I put a hold on it from our inner library loan program. I can't wait to read it - thank you for the review which sounds amazing and thank you also for not sharing too much...just enough.


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Not sure, if I'll read it but it does have me curious.

I am reading a new Dee Henderson book, Unspoken! I am happy she has new books out!


Angela said...

You are definitely making me want to read this:)

Bookie said...

I am swamped with books at this moment, or I would seek this book out immediately. I will add to my To Read List though and look forward to it in the future!

The Journey said...

Is it a hard copy book? if so am I on the list for who gets to read it next.

Bobbe said...

I liked the book. We read it for book club and the entire group liked it and the discussions were really good.

Penny O'Neill said...

Harold Fry has been languishing on my teetering pile of books since the snows of winter. Now, I must open this up and have a good set-down to read it. Thank you for this enticing review.

To Journey, above - it is in paperback.

Patsy said...

I am now reading the book,Thanks for the info.

terricheney said...

I knew you'd like it! I reached that point too where the book went everywhere with me and every single moment I could possibly spare was spent reading it.