Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Harold is retired, repressed, and for all practical matters alone, even though he still lives with his wife. He has lived a mostly unremarkable, unnoticed existence when a letter comes from a friend from work who has been gone for twenty years telling him that the friend has cancer. After writing the lamest of short letters in response, he starts to mail the letter but keeps going to the next mail box, and then the next, ruing his inability to give a better response to one of the few people he could ever think of as a friend. With the clothes he is wearing when he left the house, including a pair of boat shoes, he decides he can prolong his friend's life by walking the length of England to see her.
The results are a story of discovery about himself, his marriage, his family, people in general and the possibility of redemption. It is sad to see someone live most of their life in fear and repression and I felt bad for Harold any number of times, yet his growth, which was not always happy, made for a satisfying and ultimately uplifting story. It should only take about 10 hours to finish the book and you'll want to keep coming back to see how he's doing. I'm glad I met him.