fryOn my flight from Boston to London yesterday I finished reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – which was a fitting start to my own journey. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a charming novel about an English man who sets out on a walk across the country on a whim and as a result learns about himself and comes to terms with his life.

I just want to say from the start that I totally enjoyed this book. I am a sucker for books about late in life journeys of self-discovery set in the English countryside, and well, that is what this book is all about.

About The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: “Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.”

Reading this book I fell in love with Harold Fry and his world and felt I was walking every step with him and meeting the people along the road (strains of that other English countryside road trip pilgrimage classic The Canterbury Tales). At the same time, as Harold deals with his own self-realizations I found myself examining my own past and feeling hopeful for redemption.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce comes with my highest recommendation.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.