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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry ~Rachel Joyce

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I could not put THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY down.  I began reading this book because I needed a novel and not another self-help book and I just read it straight through.  It was as though I was on the pilgrimage with Fry and sharing each step of the way.   I finished reading it and then went back to the first page and began to read it again.

A pilgrimage is usually about doing some kind of adventure to find the center and the balance in life.  I spent a month walking the Appalachian Trail in college to think about a new major in college because I was not talented enough to continue in music.   I am reading about a pilgrimage now where a young woman walks the Pacific Crest Trail to figure out her balance after her mother’s death.   THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is about an emotional balancing/sorting which will tickle your funny bone nearly every step of the way.

The bookkeeper from the Brewery where Harold Fry worked before retiring has sent him a letter sharing that she is dying from a cancerous tumor.  Fry feels he must write to her and say he is sorry for her suffering and so pens a one sentence response, seals it in an envelope, stamps it and sets out from home to post it.  He has on his yachting shoes and a simple cotton jacket and heads out to the end of the drive and a post box.   He passes first one and then another, thus the story begins as Harold decides that he should hand deliver the note and by doing so he will keep his friend alive.

The Pilgrimage goes from the southern point of the UK to one of the most northern spots in the country, where the hospice center is located.  Step by step Harold Fry makes progress and sorts out his life and his feelings.    Maureen Fry is left at home and is at first worried and then begins a process of her own centering, sorting and changing focus – her own pilgrimage while keeping the home fires burning.

tlclogoThe book is very well written and while a gentle or walking paced read, I just had to keep turning the pages and figuring out more and more.  The second reading enabled some release of old emotions for me also; reading the novel formed a pilgrimage within me.  There was a transition that took place in the book also allowing one to figure out the focus of retirement and what to do with nearly a third of one’s life after working.    Harold Fry has no plan or map or cell phone or preparation for his quest, he just steps out and begins; he has faith.   THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is quite the book and I am certain I will read it again.  I am hoping I can persuade all of you to read it too.

Simply Marvelous

How do you keep your faith and have you taken a pilgrimage that balanced and sorted for you?

I want to thank TLC Online Book Tours for suggesting I review this book and Random House for sending me an advanced copy to read.

YouTube Interview with Rachel Joyce about book

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Related Reading:
The President’s Club
Walter’s Muse
Unfinished Business