I received an ARC of this book and I really, really enjoyed it. I cant wait until it is released (July 2012) because I am going to have to buy a final copy of it for my shelves. I will have to read it again and push it on to my family and friends. It doesnt have a lot of action but instead a quiet, reflective novel about an unlikely hero, Harold Fry. Harold is a recent retiree, he and his wife sleep in separate bedrooms hardly talk, and each new day is much like the last. That is until he receives a goodbye letter from a former friend and colleague, Queenie Hennessy whom he hasnt seen for 20 years. Queenie is writing to say goodbye. She has cancer and is in hospice. Harold writes a few sentences that dont amount to much and sets off in deck shoes and whatever he is wearing to post his letter. Because it feels good to walk and the well of emotions that start to bubble up, Harold decides to make it to the next letter box. Through a chance conversation, he decides to walk the 500 something miles to see Queenie with the conviction that she will live if he can make it.
This journey is both literal and metaphorical. He travels a great distance and goes through physical and emotional pain to get where he needs to go. He is a modern day pilgrim walking the length of England to find a cure for what ails his friend, but while Queenies need is dire, so is his relationship with his wife and son. Getting out of his daily grind is exactly what he needs to do to remember, reflect and understand where he is, how he got there and what changes he needs to make to survive his life and relationships.
The narrator is omniscient, so the reader can follow Harolds walking and internal adventures as well as those of his wife Maureen. She misses her husband for the first time ever, and finds it is no fun to clean like a dervish and bang things around like a martyr if there is no one there to feel guilty. (I love that by the way, I have done that a time or two, not that I am proud of it.) We find out what is really going on in their quiet lives as they do. Huge realizations are made and they decide if they want to stay with each other and fix things, or not.
Besides these two main characters we get a load of amazingly interesting character cameos. Harold becomes famous, a little like Forrest Gump when he is doing his cross-country running, and finds himself having to rely on the goodness of strangers. I loved the movie star bit, the doctor waiting for her boyfriend who never returned and the dog. Things arent all fluffy, the book can be dark, melancholy and sad at times sprinkled with silly. A bit like life, really.
It is an impossible quest and I wanted to go out and help him along. I really became immersed in this book and enjoyed these very real people so much. It makes you laugh, cry, want to hug your family and friends and made me appreciate the power of faith, just a little bit more. I give this book 5 stars.
This book was about a man's journey (at what seems is the latter part of his life) and how he faces his life & its secrets and lies after so many years. He has received a letter that a coworker is dying & he asks her to wait for him as he walks the 600 miles, willing her to live till he gets there. Harold encounters his past and the ghosts that kept him bound and by the time his journey is over, he truly has arrived at himself and the truth of his life. He learns acceptance of himself and others and begins to truly live by the end of the story. This book carried me through emotions with Harold & his journey and I'm left feeling encouraged to face life and accept what I cannot change.
This was a unique story, both humorous and heartbreaking. It is a journey in more ways than one that leaves us pondering our own past, present and future. Bittersweet, but inspiring.
I really loved this book!! It was engaging from the beginning pages & a very different & touching story of this man's journey. At times it did seem a little far-fetched but it didnt' matter. It was a quick read, hard to put down. It wasn't until the end that the meaning behind his journey was revealed.
An enjoyable read. Interesting characters and unusual story line.