The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (audio): second bit

haroldYou’ll recall that I did already review the first third or so of this audiobook, because I just couldn’t hold in my enthusiasm. Well, my good impression continues through the next third of the book, along with my need to share as I go.

I will give away less from here on out. Harold’s journey continues, and while his physical, geographical journey is the obvious plot line, there is a parallel arc of personal growth. At the beginning, he is almost unable to be in the same room with strangers; by the end he easily greets them everywhere he goes, and has learned to share his story and take on what is often the burden of other people’s stories. This is essentially a very human tale, incorporating all the strange, wonderful, and wonderfully, strangely normal lives of the people Harold meets along the way.

He met a tax inspector who was a druid and had not worn a pair of shoes in ten years.

There is also a sense of growing tension regarding one of the secrets I referred to in my earlier post; the un-referred-to past looms larger as we go on, and I have a guess I’m fairly confident about, but I will wait and see.

Harold gains followers as he continues walking, until there is a large group of “pilgrims” accompanying him on his journey. I was reminded a little bit of Forrest Gump, when he’s running, and finds a crowd running behind him. Unlike Forrest, Harold has a purpose, and his followers know it; and also unlike Forrest, these followers become a real burden. By this time, he has learned to take care of himself quite well; now he has newcomers to take care of too, and this takes up a lot of time and effort. Also, they’re not as fast as he is at the actual walking; but he tries to be patient, remembering how long it took him to build up stamina and get into a rhythm. I was, of course, infuriated at their selfishness in holding Harold back from something so important to him; but I can see how Harold could have done nothing less than help them along.

As I enter the final third (give or take) of this book, I am only sorry that it has to end.

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