Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rachel Joyce ~The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry~

Read: On Kindle
Paid: £2.69
Reason I choose it: It had really good reviews so I saved it in my wish list and when the price came down I bought it.
Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie--who is 600 miles away--because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die.

So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories--flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband.

Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband's sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?
My Opinion
The idea of this book was a nice one but it took me a month to read as it was so dull but at that price there was no way I was going to give up on it and sadly it didn't get any better. The author tried to make it interesting by having Harold meet people along the way as well as having some tag along but there was nothing interesting about those people as they were just as dull as Harold. You learned more about Harold's feet, legs and the mantra 'one foot in front of the other' that it felt like many Deja Vu moments.
The thing that completely lost me though is that Harold wanted to complete his walk in yachting shoes to prove a point, he didn't in the end want to spend money that wasn't necessary but then he quite happily let a bunch of random people and a dog tag along who got him involved in wearing T-shirts, advertising drinks, photo shoots etc... which to me just completely lost the point instead of a pair of shoes. Just as quickly as they all latched on they all abandoned him and went their own way including the dog. They bought nothing to the book at all.
The book switches between Harold and his wife, I thought it would perk up a little with her but oh how wrong I was. Honestly if you're feeling totally depressed this is the worst book to read.
The only person that got any reaction out of me was Queenie... Goodness I could have cried! I no longer cared about Harold, his wife and their situation by the end.
I really need to keep away from these Man Booker Prizes as whoever picks the books for this award don't have an interesting eye for books. There isn't one yet that I have enjoyed.
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  1. I loved this book... Maybe because I don't follow any bestseller lists, I just browse shelves in my library and take stuff with me, so I didn't have any expectations. I'm quite fascinated with the theme of old people looking back and thinking about what life is about. You can take the walking thing as a symbol, he could as well sit in his backyard and try to see things in a different light ~ but people normally don't do it in the backyard, they go on digging out their beets and try to carry on for as much time as they have left. People and relationships becoming dull with time is a very common thing and struggling against this needs LOADS of energy and spirit. I think this is what this book was about for me. I didn't see it as depressing at all. The point it brought across was that you HAVE to get up at some point and start walking in the direction that takes you away from things that poison your life or brings you towards the things that you wish for. I think the people Harold met were just as the people I meet in real life ~ some are weird, some are desperate, some do have a function, others don't... Their function was to be a part of his journey... and, seriously, I didn't expect fireworks and volcanic eruptions with his wife... After years and decades of coldness based on things untold, taking the partner's hand, knowing that he actually means something to you, is a pretty good start of someting more agreable than just waiting until one of them dies... I guess the reason that this book has left an impression with me, was that it moved me emotionally, because it contains things that I think about often. The story, I will forget about (I already forgot all about his yacht shoes o.O), but the message will stay with me for a while...

    1. Thanks for your side of things as I think its needed to give a different version of the story to people :).


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