Following instructions, I powered though the rest of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I am so happy I didn’t set it aside and forget about it. Was it the best book I’ve read in a while? No. Was it a stand out favorite? No. Would I read it again? No. But…… Was it good? Yep. Did I like the overall story? Yes. Would I recommend it to a fellow reader? Yes.
Like I always do before and after reading a book I headed to Amazon to check out customer reviews. I read the reviews before starting the book to get a sense if the book will be worth reading in the first place. I rarely read a book that receives less than a 3 star (out of five) approval. Then after I finish I go back to compare my thoughts with others who have read it. Amazon customers gave this book 4.3/5. Not surprising, it was sweet and simple.
The story follow Harold Fry on an unlikely pilgrimage (go figure). He receives a letter from an old friend, Queenie, who is in Hospice, dying of cancer. Harold quickly wrote a response and set out on foot to mail it from the nearest post. But soon he passes the post office and continues walking and begins to believe that he must deliver his response in person and he must walk to her, over 600 miles. He believes that as long as he is walking she will stay alive. Along the walk Harold meets an eclectic variety of people, some walk with him while others give him food, shelter, gear, but all of whom encourage his mission once they hear about it. Throughout the story the reader is haunted with two obvious questions… Will he make it to his destination? If so, will Queenie still be alive?
Along with Harold’s story, the reader is introduced to Harold’s wife, Maureen. He loves her dearly but the two have had a rocky marriage for numerous reasons (none of which are infidelity, a thank you to the author for avoiding that overused option). As Harold walks and transforms, Maureen goes through a transformation of her own. She starts the story a bit annoying but finishes endearing.
The book was okay. I didn’t hate it but I was bored. The story follows an old, retired man who is walking over 600 miles, how much excitement can there really be. I don’t know what I was expecting when I started reading this book but just 1/3 in I was bored out of my mind. If you read the synopsis you get the gist of the story. I should have expected little thrills and drama and that is exactly what I got. Imagine a man in his 60s walking for nearly 90 days; slow and time consuming.
The story was well written, the characters were mostly likeable, and the plot was cute. I wanted Harold to succeed in his pilgrimage and for he and Maureen to work out their problems. I feel bad that I didn’t love the book as much as Amazon reviewers did (4.3/5 stars) but I absolutely understand why a lot of people did like it. It was just too flat for me right now. Maybe I needed something with a little more thrill, more adventure (like a 600 mile walk isn’t enough adventure, haha) especially after reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Harold’s adventure just didn’t measure up. It was a sweet, beach style read that I’m sure a lot of people have/will enjoy.
To give credit where credit is due, image is stolen from www.amazon.com. As always, that is a direct link to the book if you wanted to get your own copy.