Friday, 15 February 2013

...reading 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry'

It's been ages since I actually got to choose what book I was reading. As always, I have been reading lots for work; 'The Great Gatsby', and some of Fitzgerald's short stories from his 'Flappers and Philosophers' collection. I love Gatsby (the book and the character), and if you are a fan I would give Fitzgerald's short stories a go too. Like Gatsby, they give you a snapshot of life in the New York of the roaring twenties and are packed with the same dark and sinister undertone.  

The shorter the better  for me recently as I have been crazy busy an haven't managed to read as much as I would like to; I can just about cope with 10-15 pages a night! However, I have been keen to get back into reading novels.

Enter Harold Fry.

The in-laws love a good book.  They belong to a book club and everything. Whilst they finish the book for most of their meetings, they often say how rare it is that everyone in the group comes having read the whole book (and rarer still that everyone enjoys it). Their most recent read, 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' by Rachel Joyce was a rare thing indeed.  They all finished it, and they all liked it. So, I decided to give it a go myself. My mother-in-law was worried that I wouldn't really like it as it was about a retired man in his early 60s. How wrong she was.

This book is a gripping read. It tells the story of a man who one day receives a letter from a long lost friend who is terminally ill. He writes back, and walks to the postbox to post his letter. And then a funny thing happens; he carries on to the next postbox, and then on to the next town, until he decides to deliver the letter personally. Harold quickly comes to realise that he has to walk from Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed because he believes the journey will save his friend from dying.

Along the way he meets all sorts of characters. Some think he is mad, some really believe in him. Some are famous, some are a bit bizarre.  Some are kind, some tell him their deepest, darkest secrets. At times the novel is quite biblical; and there is a sort of spirituality in Harold's physical and emotional journey. There are times when he feels he cannot go on, and he loses hope. However, as a reader you cannot help but believe in him and that he can make it. I don't know for certain if he does yet (I'm only half way through), but I will be devastated if he doesn't!

You must read this book! Thank you Rachel Joyce for reminding me that I can read more than 10-15 pages a night.

Maria x

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