Saturday, 17 August 2013
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce was a seemingly gentle read at the start, but as Harold progresses on his pilgrimage to visit his former colleague Queenie, dying of cancer at the opposite end of the country from Harold's home, his mood, and that of the book, becomes more complex. Harold initially sets out to simply post a letter in reply to one from Queenie, but then decides to keep walking. He tells various people he meets about his idea of walking the length of the country to see Queenie, and eventually his story is picked up by a journalist, and Harold becomes household news. Other people join Harold on his walk, although none knew Queenie. Meanwhile, Harold's wife Maureen is coping with Harold's absence from home in her own way. The story of their relationship is at the heart of the book and at the conclusion their relationship has changed utterly. Although Rachel Joyce uses fairly simple, straightforward language to tell Harold's story, and the journey itself is a basic plot, yet this is not quite the simple tale which it first appears to be. Well worth reading.