My book review of 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' by Rachel Joyce

by Rachel Joyce

Harold Fry and his wife lived a quiet life of routine. One morning Harold received a letter from an old work colleague telling him she was dying. He wrote a quick note in response and set off to the postbox. But he didn't post the letter. He kept walking. A conversation with a young girl in a petrol station filled him with an irrational hope that if he embarked on a journey to the other end of the country to visit his friend, she would be healed.

As he walks Harold comes to understand more about himself, about his relationships, about other people and about life. He is not equipped for the journey and has to rely on the kindness of strangers. He becomes a celebrity as people are inspired by his endeavour, but he wants to be alone and self-reliant, for it is his act that will save his friend. Meanwhile Harold's wife, back at home, is coming to terms with his absence and confronting the life they have been leading together, and their own personal tragedy that has torn them apart.

This is a marvellous book! It is moving and quirky, it makes you cry and makes you smile. It also fills you with hope as it celebrates goodness, kindness and resolution. The style is deceptively simple. The characters are beautifully innocent and naive. I was happy to be lost in this book, and left it feeling that I had discovered something very profound.

Review date: July 2012