Title: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Author: Rachel Joyce
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Harold Fry is retired and doesn’t really know what he’s doing with his life anymore. His wife Maureen seems to want nothing to do with him. He goes through day after monotonous day, just waiting for something to happen. And something does – Harold receives a postcard from an old colleague Queenie telling him that she is dying. Harold writes back to her, and instead of walking to the mailbox to send his letter as he intends, on a whim he decides to walk 600 miles, sure that if he can just make it to see Queenie, somehow she will pull through.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a gem of a book in which the absolutely ordinary main character decides that he is going to do one extraordinary thing. Harold is a completely endearing man. He’s not perfect by any means. He has many regrets about his life, including letting his friendship with Queenie go and his estrangement from his son. He sets out on an almost ridiculous journey with absolutely no planning or provisions, yet the reader can’t help but adore him and his faith in the idea that there is something better out there.
Over the course of The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Harold is plagued by self-doubts and obstacles. The reader roots for him to continue his journey, to make it against all odds, yet the outcome is never certain. The novel really is a testament to the human spirit, not only that of Harold’s, but of all those who help him along the way. He meets many different people in many different circumstances, but they are good people who want to help him. It gives the reader faith in their fellow men and women.
The main focus of The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is Harold’s transformation on his journey, and how he affects those around him, including Maureen, who’s been left behind. Harold makes some very difficult realizations about himself and must come to terms with his relationship with his son. It’s absolutely wonderful to accompany these quiet, ordinary characters on this amazing journey, to see them transform before the reader’s eyes.
If the story wasn’t enough, Rachel Joyce’s writing in The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is absolutely wonderful. It really elevates the novel, makes something that could be so mundane absolutely brilliant. If you’re looking for a pensive, beautifully written novel about what it means to be human, if you want to be reminded that it’s never too late and extraordinary acts of faith are possible, this is a wonderful novel to pick up.