Thursday, June 6, 2013

"The letter that changed everything would arrive on a Tuesday.”

One day seems very like the next to Harold and Maureen.  Married for decades, they have grown apart into a life that leaves them both empty, lonely, and unsatisfied.   One day, Harold receives a letter from Queenie Hennessy, a woman who he has not seen or spoken to in twenty years.  She has written to say her goodbye as she lays in hospice waiting to die from terminal cancer.   Harold, a shy, insecure, and nearly invisible sort of man, pens a typically tepid and colorless reply which doesn’t reflect his inner emotions at all.  While on his way to post the letter, he meets a young girl who tells him that her aunt was saved from cancer by hope.  Seized by a sudden conviction that he can give Queenie hope, Harold sets off at that very moment, completely unprepared but full of purpose.  His mantra becomes “I will keep walking and she must keep living.”  Given that he lives in southern England and Queenie is 500 miles away in the north, this quixotic journey strikes a chord with many of the people he meets along the way.  As Harold walks, he reflects on his life and ponders past regrets and disappointments, but also remembers long forgotten moments of joy.  He interacts with all kinds of people and learns many things that surprise him.  For fans of character driven novels, novels about reflection and inspiration, or gentle contemporary British fiction.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was a contender for the 2012 Man Booker Prize.

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Review by Amy Billings 

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