Friday, April 11, 2014

[Review] The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/01/2012
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 296
Source: Bought
Genre: Adult contemporary

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 
Bittersweet
My thoughts

I was drawn to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry because I'd read The One-Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (review), which also involved an elderly man walking... somewhere. I didn't really know what to expect when I started reading this book.

It wasn't long before I was hooked on the story, the characters and the meaning behind it. This is a very simple story. It's about an elderly man who pledges to walk from one end of England to the other because he believes that as long as he keeps walking the woman he let down 20 years ago will continue to live. She has cancer. All he knows is that he must get to her; he will not let her down again.


I just can't get over how engrossing the story was, how invested I became in it. I couldn't put it down, or if I did before long I was itching to pick it back up again. I think the simple writing also contributed to this. I didn't have to focus too hard to make sense of the sentences.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a story about love, hope, loss and death, redemption, forgiveness and moving forward. Putting one foot in front of the other - as Harold continues to walk he continues to remember the past and sort out and come to terms with all that has happened.

I like that Harold Fry's past is revealed bit by bit. I liked the development of his relationship and marriage with his wife: how the walk changes them and reminds them of why they got married in the first place. I like the parallels between that punk kid (can't remember his name) and his own son. I like the simplicity in the writing style. I like the emphasis that Rachel Joyce, the author, places on the idea that everyone and everything, the places you go, the people you meet, leave imprints on a person.


Quotes

Favourite quotes:

"'You have to believe. That's what I think. It's not about medicine and all that stuff. You have to believe a person can get better. There is so much in the human mind we don't understand. But, you see, if you have faith, you can do anything.' ... 'I mean trusting what you don't know and going for it. Believing you can make a difference.' (5%)

"'I'm setting off right now. As long as I walk, she must live. Please tell her this time I won't let her down.' (7%)

"'You'd think walking should be the simplest thing,' she said at last. 'Just a question of putting one foot in front of the other. But it never ceases to amaze me how difficult the things that are supposed to be instinctive really are.'
She wet her lower lip with her tongue, waiting for mroe words. 'Eating,' she said at last. 'That's another one. Some people have real difficulties with that. Talking too. Even loving. They can all be difficult.' (16%)


"People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside. The superhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that. (28%)

"Beginnings could happen more than once, or in different ways. You could think you were starting something afresh, when actually what you were doing was carrying on as before. (49%)

"There was so much out there, so much life, going about its daily business of getting by, of suffering and fighting, and not knowing he was sitting up there, watching. Again he felt in a profound way that he was both inside and outside what he saw; that he was both connected, and passing through. Harold began to understand that this was also the truth about his walk. He was both a part of things, and not. (63%)

"They [the people in his life who have passed on] were part of the air he walked through, just as all the travellers he had met were part of it. He saw that people would make the decisions they wished to make, and some of them would hurt both themselves and those who loved them, and some would pass unnoticed, while others would bring joy. (98%)
   
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I purchased this book with my own money. All opinions written here are my own.



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