Tuesday, June 24, 2014
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.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
When a book can win the Pulitzer Prize and also be a best seller for quite a while, you know you've run into a rare story. It's a long book (766 pages in hard cover) yet one you can read at 40 to 50 pages at a sitting because it is so well written and the story so compelling. Critics are now arguing if it's a great book, in the college literature sense of the meaning. I can't say, but it is a wonderful read and a book I'll remember for a long time.