Joan N. (Evanston, IL)
A Walk into One's Depth
As I read along, I was captivated by the prose and the premise: a retired man walking great distances to be at the bedside of a woman he worked with who was in hospice. I wondered how the author would be able to sustain the story - step after step, what could be of interest? I found myself drawn into the depths of this ordinary man who decides one day to do an extraordinary thing. And in doing so he finds himself and he reclaims his life.
Carol Rosen pompton lakes, NJ
Philosophically Sound Yet Slow
A new spin on a road trip takes the reader through a journey of relationship and intimacy challenges with particular focus on moving from guilt and regret to redemption and forgiveness. If you like a heady slow moving book this is for you. I found it to be slow moving and predictable in terms of the human revelations. I did enjoy the sense of mystery that made me wonder what had happened earlier on amongst the characters. This was the one thing that kept me going to the end. I can see how others may love this book. Just not for me.
Karen J. (Bremerton, WA)
Patience Well Rewarded
The narrative of this story, like Harold Fry’s journey, starts out ploddingly slow and I was tempted to push it aside. Gradually, however, I was drawn in, knowing Harold’s quest to be impossible yet wanting to believe otherwise. For me, the richness in this tale was in the journey itself, not the destination although once reached, I found the conclusion sweetly satisfying and my patience well rewarded. In an interview the author was quoted as saying her book was about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary things in ordinary ways. This is no ordinary book. I shall be recommending it to my friends. Great book for reading clubs.
Kim E. (Warrenton, va)
Harold Fry is a must read...
I loved this book. It is not my usual style of reading, but it was immeasurably rewarding to follow Harold Fry across England. I had to often stop and hug my family as I came across yet another poignant moment. This book wakes you up and shines a light on how little moments add up to a chasm of words left unsaid. Sometimes stepping out of my usual genre takes me to unexpected places, and this book is not to be missed.
Ame H. (Richmond, VA)
The Weight of a Walk
Harold Fry randomly opts to go for a walk one day. He is no Forrest Gump, nor is he a Frodo Baggins, he's just Harold. Sometimes when you find out an estranged friend is dying in a hospice, you want to do more than write a letter of sympathy. In Harold's case, he takes his letter from postbox to postbox and knows that it won't be enough, so he decides to walk 500 miles in the tradition of the Proclaimers. The importance in the walk lies with all the elements that Harold leaves behind in his 21st century life - for a time yes, he has his debit card, but he doesn't bring walking shoes, a mobile phone, a GPS, or even a compass to aid him on his trip. Imagine yourself without your phone, or your favored gas-guzzling mode of transportation. What would you think about? What regrets would spring to mind? Follow Harold for awhile and his troubles will lay themselves on the road ahead during the length of his trip. I admire a title that utilizes something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other to stir up long-forgotten memories, and make the reader (and Harold) wonder where the time has gone (and why we're so tied to the homestead/modern conveniences). As with many quaint British tales, I can easily see this as a serene, sad film with a tall, yet hunched fellow embracing the horizon despite his terribly hurt feet. This title is recommended for anyone that requires inspiration to get out of the house, of any age, or anyone that enjoys a story with the message of "It's not too late". What you make of that message is up to you.
Patricia K. (Iowa)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
It is said you can't judge a book by its cover; the same could be said for Harold Fry, who, like many of us, has never done a thing out of the ordinary in his whole life. Yet as Harold undertakes a very uncharacteristic journey--on foot--to see his dying friend one last time, the reader is privy to Harold's thoughts and feelings. How those thoughts and feelings define Harold's humanity is something we can all relate to. I loved this book, not only for the storyline that kept me wondering if Harold would get to his friend in time, but also because it caused me to reconsider my own life journey...and what truly matters in the end. I think we can all find a bit of Harold—and Maureen—in ourselves, and, with a bit of introspection, find the great gift that comes with being open…open to experiences, open to others, open to life.
Janet P. (Houston, TX)
An "unlikely journey" indeed!
If the "meek shall inherit the earth," certainly Harold Fry in Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will be among the crowd. In his allegorical five hundred mile foot journey in a pair of yachting shoes to save the cancer-ridden Queenie from the fangs of the Grim Reaper, Harold meets many obstacles, but like a knight on a quest, nothing will deter him from his goal. A college professor once told me that it is not the object of reaching one's goal in life that is of the greatest important, it is that we, like Harold, continue the journey, for it is in the knowledge that we gain that we meet ourselves. The journey is all. Harold's journey is, in a way, a triumph. And then there is Maureen, Harold's wife, who has been literally abandoned and ... who is almost another story.
Joyce's narrative tugs at our heartstrings and forces readers to delve into their own pasts, dragging buried failings of their own out into the light. Harold's epiphany should provide good reading as well as food for thought for all who undergo the journey.