June 26

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’s’ pilgrimage into my own hands was a little bit of divine intervention.  This book came to me at a time when I needed it most – even though I didn’t know it then – and Harold, oh how I love thee for it.

This read is an absolute beauty.  When it was lent to me with an urgent ‘you need to read this’,  my expectations were low.  But I was hooked in chapter one by this strange little man and his quest which unfolds gently and bravely. Perhaps my own low expectations were what we are meant to have for Harold when we first meet him.
The book is essentially about a journey as the name suggests.  Harold Fry receives a letter from an old yet mysterious colleague Queenie who is very sick with cancer in an English village on the other side of the country to Harold. He writes a reply under the scrutiny of his scratchy wife, goes to post it but just keeps walking.  As each postbox passes, he decides ultimately that he will walk the letter to Queenie himself, wearing a pair of boat shoes and with only what he has on his person.  And so begins the pilgrimage and the opening up of Harold’s world and the crashing of the worlds of those closest to him.
This is a book about transformation, forgiveness, love, rebirth, death and goodbyes. It has it all but it unfolds like the slow walk that it is, a little passively, like Harold.
With each step he took, I fell in love more.  The book packs some mighty punches when you least expect them that will have you gasping, re-reading and weeping – yes, no lie, prepare yourself.  There are lines that still make me weep as I read them at a time when I myself, lost someone who I loved very, very much.  The pilgrimage and Harold and his story became a salve to my broken heart and that is why Harold Fry’s pilgrimage truly leapt from the pages into my soul. He may just have saved me too.
And that is my 2 cents.