Harold Fry is truly the perfect antidote to Gone Girl! Everyone is ‘normal’ and ‘ordinary’ and the quirkiness is gentle and quiet, in a reassuring kind of way! No diabolical plotting here, no malignant thoughts…just a man, not very young, rather alone, trying to get something done. Something he starts on instinct that eventually transforms into something like faith.
So we have Harold Fry…walking from one end of England to another in a manner reminiscent of Pilgrims Progress! Remember that? I read it way back when I was in school and although I don’t remember details I remember being very taken by the story. It’s the same with this one. It started off slowly, like its protagonist, who is a quietly reserved, extremely introspective man, a man used to being invisible in his own life. A man defeated by life and frozen in time, who finally makes an instinctive decision spurred on by his wish to honour a long lost friendship. What follows is a wholesome story of the people he meets along the way on this journey, akin to a modern-day pilgrimage; people who inspire and distract, who flatter and disappoint, who encourage and disparage – but are all invaluable companions on his journey of self-discovery. Like all good journeys, this one doesn’t begin with an intent to self-discovery, but that’s what it eventually becomes.
But the book has two journeys, truth be told. Maureen, Harold’s wife and companion for 45 years – is on her own journey; one enforced by that of her husband’s; and what I particularly enjoyed was how their journeys were so distinct and different and yet so similar in result. This is also a love story of the best kind and as the book approached its end – Joyce’s dialogue between husband and wife struck a chord and made me tear up more often than not! It’s poignant and deep without ever being preachy. Her gentle language and writing style are the perfect vehicles for a story like this one. The scenes where Maureen is organizing their wardrobe and later on when they meet in Berwick –Upon – Tweed are particularly tender and enlightening.
A feel good, easy to read yet profoundly inspirational book that will leave you wanting more and that for me, washed away all the grit and darkness from Gone Girl and replaced it with a lightness of spirit! A good read! From this review onward I thought it would be fun to list new words that I learnt from the books I read, just to keep track 😉
New word learnt: Shambolic – chaotic, disorganized, or mismanaged. A useful word in my vocabulary 😛
The book befitting its pilgrimage theme is strewn with little nuggets of wisdom like these:
“He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others. As a passer-by, he was in a place where everything, not only the land, was open. People would feel free to talk, and he was free to listen. To carry a little of them as he went.”
“He had learned that it was the smallness of people that filled him with wonder and tenderness, and the loneliness of that too. The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had done so for a long time. Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human.”
“It’s a rather unusual kind of healing. I don’t know how you came up with it. But maybe it’s what the world needs. A little sense, and a little more faith.” Amen to that 😉
And my favourite,
“He walked so surely it was all his life he had been waiting to get up from his chair.”
It has a wonderful cover too! Read it 🙂
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (wednesdaybookreview.wordpress.com)
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce (yournextbestbook.wordpress.com)
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (charlotte-booklog.typepad.com)
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce (bookloverssanctuary.wordpress.com)