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"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce

I had this one sitting on my TBR for quite some time. I'm glad I finally picked it up, because it was all worth it in the end. 


"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."



This book was so different from all the others I've read over the last year or so. I was very impressed with the writing, because despite my scepticism and fear going in, the book captured me right from the start. I couldn't stop reading, even though I didn't enjoy all parts of the story equally. 


It was Harold who broke my heart pretty much in the first chapter. He was so lost, so uncertain of everything, but then something just snapped in his mind and he HAD to walk the distance to see Queenie. Because if he only belived hard enough, a miracle might happen and Queenie would be cured. He mad eme smile and hurt for him at the same time. His wife Maureen was a different story. I had a harder time with her. Maybe because she didn't always make sense to me on an emotional level. Maybe because I still understood her - she had a very eerie resemblance to someone in my own family. But all in all, these two MCs touched me on a very personal level, one I didn't expect or was always completely comfortable with. But they got under my skin, and once they did, I enjoyed their journey very much. 


Sadly, some parts of the story dragged a little. Especially the happenings involving all of Harold's "followers" and the whole media hype. It was probably not far from a potential reality, but it still annoyed me one moment, then bored me the next. I felt somewhat disconnected at that point.


The last part packed another punch though, and really got to me. So much. It was Harold, again, so beautifully real and human and flawed, who broke my heart and drew me in again. I felt for him, I even felt a little more for Maureen. Their loss and hope slayed me all at once.


All in all, I really liked this story despite the niggles and issues I had with in now and again. I'd recommend it to everyone who likes a well written story about life, love, regrets and loss, combined with a very unusual adventure.