Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Rachel Joyce)

Genre: General Fiction

Rating: ★★★★


Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie–who is 600 miles away–because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die.

So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories–flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband.

Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband’s sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?


This was a lovely read. I liked the writing and I’ve always been a fan of old people’s story. I guess it came from losing my maternal grandmother at a very young age and not being able to bond with her now. I still have my maternal grandfather and I feel so blessed to see him age and become an amazing role model.

The plot is very simple: it’s about Harold Fry who decides to walk 600+ miles to his long lost friend Queenie Hennesy after knowing of her impending sickness. I love his faith in his walk and how as he faced so many challenges and hurdles, he kept going, even when he wanted to give up.

He has had a very troubling past with his marriage and his estranged relationship with his son. We see how this walk transforms Harold to accept his past and move forward to a happier future. I also love how the book gave us a viewpoint of his wife Maureen who is also struggling in ther own way to accept the past.

It’s a sweet novel, but not one that broke my heart like A Man Called Ove. I don’t know why I kept comparing Harold to Ove, but this is a good read none the less! I will read the sequel The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy soon if I come across it in the future!

I’d recommend it if you love life journeys, old people’s stories and that soft touch learning about life.


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