Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
I wanted to read this as soon as I read an early review of it, but waited for the paperback. 

Newly retired Harold gets a letter from a one-time colleague, saying she is dying of cancer. He sets out to post a reply to her, but doesn't stop walking, and in the end walks the length of England (south Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed) to see her in person, having phoned the hospice she's in to tell her to wait for him. His marriage has more or less broken down, and he's estranged from his son. His journey through England puts everything right. 

This is a beautiful book with some wonderful use of language. How's this for conciseness of description - setting an entire scene in 1 sentence on page 1: 'It was an ordinary morning in mid-April that smelled of clean washing and grass cuttings.' You are instantly in middle-class suburbia with that line! And it's really clever - we learn that Harold's wife Miriam is constantly washing and cleaning, and his job is to mow the lawn. But on the day the letter arrives, the lawn has been mown. He has nothing else to do, only walk to the postbox with his letter...

There are some wonderful characters, not least Harold himself, who you really warm to. And some emotional scenes as Harold comes to terms with his own past. 

No comments:

Post a Comment