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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.
Wendy E. (Mechanicsville, VA)
A book to cheer about!
Harold and Maureen are in a loveless, lifeless marriage when a letter from Harold's former co-worker arrives. She's got cancer and is writing to say goodbye to Harold. Harold writes a reply and in his docksiders, trousers, shirt and tie sets off to the postbox. When he gets there, he cannot bring himself to post the letter. Eventually, he does mail the letter, but so too begins his journey to see his old friend again before she dies in a hospice 500 miles across England. Lovely book! Anyone who liked Major Pettigrew's Last Stand will surely enjoy this subtle novel about failed relationships, past regrets and seemingly bleak futures. While it wasn't completely plausible at all times, I still found myself cheering Harold on as he walked through not only the unfamiliar physical landscape, but his emotional landscape was well. Well-written with convincingly flawed characters and a compelling theme, this was a GREAT book!
Here is a good book
Here is a good book. The breadth of the experience was masterful, and I have notched at least 12 pages for continual savoring. "...he was free to listen. To carry a little of them as he went." "I should have raged." "I love you... This is what you did."
Mary M. (Beverly Hills, FL)
So simple, yet so powerful. And I feel the richer for the experience. Please partake.
There are not enough superlative adjectives in the English language to describe this book adequately. It is marvelous, charming, touching, poignant, wise, funny . . . and on and on. I read it straight through in one sitting. I could no more put it down than Harold Fry could stop walking his unlikely pilgrimage. Rachel Joyce has masterfully captured the essence of the human condition, and I recommend this book to anyone who has a heart.
Colleen L. (Casco, ME)
A moving and eloquent novel to be enjoyed by all.
As I get older, I find I greatly enjoy & seek out books that focus on complex relationships. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is beautifully written and is not a fast paced novel. Instead, the author writes wonderful prose that enables the reader to savor the journey that is taken by Harold Fry. The book is written is written in such a way that you feel as if you are walking with Harold as you read along page by page. Harold is an ordinary man who is on an extraordinary pilgrimage to see his friend Queenie who he hasn't seen in 20 years. Queenie is in a hospice dying of cancer. Harold may be ordinary but to everyone he meets, he makes an impact and Harold learns that "all people are the same and also unique".
My review is not doing justice to this wonderful novel. It is uplifting, spiritual, emotional and sad. It is a GREAT novel. It will make you think about your own relationships and actions or lack thereof. You will love the characters by the end of the book. Be prepared to start the book in the morning when you know you have all day to read because once you start, you will not want to stop till the bitter end.
There are also surprises in the book which I will not disclose which will move you to tears. Be prepared to have tissues handy.
I read in the author's bio that this is her first book but that she has written more than 20 original plays for the BBC. Her experience in writing plays is self evident in this book ....it would easily translate to film and would make a heartwarming movie.
I cannot write as eloquently as the author but I encourage all readers who love character driven, relationship driven novels to buy this book. You will not be disappointed. I predict it will be a huge seller in 2012 and be remembered as one of the best books in 2012.