A review by Marthe Wouters The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry
A story about Harold Fry, a normal retired man, who’s world is turned around when he recieves a letter from an old friend. “Thank you for those great times you gave me. Goodbye”.
Rachel Joyce‘s first novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, was a success. Starting with a nomination on the Man Booker’s Longlist, Joyce’s way of fame continued; the book became a well known novel, following by other nominations like the Desmond Elliot Prize. Joyce has always been a writer; starting at the age of six, she wrote a book about cats. Now, Joyce has written over twenty original afternoon plays for BBC radio 4. She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver.
Devon, South-England. A normal day at the Fry’s turns into a big adventure; Harold recieves a letter from his old colleque, Queeny Hennessy. Harold is shocked; not only because he hasn’t thought about her for ages, but because Queeny is dying. Cancer. Shaking from apprehension, Harold walks to the post office but doesn’t stop walking. “As long as I walk, you will live.” Giving up is no option for Harold. All his life, he has lost too much; the only thing he controles at this moment is keeping Queeny alive. So, he keeps walking. From south-England to the most northern tip of England (627 miles), wearing just his yauhtingshoes and jacket, Harold starts his journey with no idea what to exprect.
What makes this book so inspirating is that just one man can make such a huge difference. Not only in his own life, but also in (for example) his wife’s, Maureen, who is terrified of being home alone. Maybe a story about a 64-year old man doesn’t sound conspicuous.. Well, don’t judge too fast; even the idea of a book around 400 pages about an old retired man makes some people curious. Because, what do those people really do? The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry is a book written with such percision that it’s almost terryfing. You just want to keep yelling; “Harold, you can do it!”.
Following Harold on his journey is breathtaking; he is all alone and there is no-one to help. But that’s where another part of the story is told; not Harold’s, but by other strollers, other locals, other tourists, other men. Harold’s story inspirates not only the reader, but also his surrounders. Harold Fry turns from an ordinary man into a fighter; he combats nature and himself.
A wonderful, adventurous, inspiring, breathtaking, emotional story of a man following his heart and the woman who needs his heart. This is a story that brings the best out of everyone, althought you don’t realise it.
“The least planned part of the journey, however, was the journey itself.” The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry