The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

unlikelyWhen I finished this novel, I not only wanted to read it again – I wanted to underline it and make notes in the margins.  This is, for me, an unusual reaction!  I read it for a book club, and it’s ideal for a lively discussion – the edition I read even had discussion questions in the back.

Harold Fry is 65 years old. He’s been retired for six months and just sits in a chair all day.  ”He thought he might like to go out, but the only thing to do was mow the lawn and he had done that yesterday.”  His wife, Maureen, spends all day cleaning the house over and over and criticizing Harold!  Maureen talks to their son, David, but Harold and David never talk to each other.  Then “the letter that would change everything” arrives.  Harold, with no preparations at all, sets off on a 600 mile walk across England to visit a former colleague who’s dying of cancer.  He meets a wide variety of people along the way, and gradually we learn more about his past.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is an adventure story, a tale about letting go and holding on, an exploration of the possibilities of change in a person’s life and relationships – and a beautifully crafted novel.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services

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