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

haroldDon’t forget to also see my earlier reviews of the first third and second third of this book.

Naturally, Harold Fry continued to be excellent. I love this book. The sad bit where we left him off in my last review, where he was dogged by misguided followers (yes, I believe I mean that literally, too), was sad; but it came to an end. Harold of course ends up on his own again, which is mostly his natural state in this story. But he won’t finish that way. I don’t want to report any more plot points. This book ends on a hopeful note, and everyone – not only the few characters you might think early on, but everyone – ends up growing and learning.

Rachel Joyce’s strengths definitely include her wry writing voice, which is really very funny. Harold is often self-conscious, but Joyce never is. Her characters are very real and well put together; even the most minor of walk-ons is defined precisely in just a few words. There are larger truths as well. For example, I was struck by the statement of relativity here:

How could he say all this? It amounted to a lifetime. He could try to find the words, but they would never hold the same meaning for her that they did for him. My house, he would say, and the image that would spring to her head would be of her own! There was no saying it.

None of us shall ever know exactly what the others have been through! Oh the humanity!

Incidentally, I was right in my big guess about the big secret. Work that one out for yourselves.

I fell in love with Harold, and with Maureen, and with Rex (Rachel Joyce, is there another book with Rex in it? please please??), and with all the smaller players. I felt so close to these people, these real people living quiet lives – or even lives of quiet desperation, you might say. I am very impressed with this story of ordinary people doing small, private things, that also managed to be a very large story about The Human Situation (that’s an Honors College course I took as a freshman, FYI). The wisdom that is communicated in humble packages is extraordinary. Harold is a star, and Rachel Joyce is my new hero. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Highly recommended; and the audio read by Jim Broadbent is absolutely grand as well. One of the best of the year to date, without a doubt.


Rating: 10 yards of blue duct tape.

6 Responses

  1. […] The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry*, Rachel Joyce (fiction) […]

  2. […] The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry*, Rachel Joyce – fiction […]

  3. […] sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: hooray! I’m so excited! Well, let’s not wait around, here’s the […]

  4. […] companion to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and every bit as affecting, sweet and […]

  5. I heard from a book club friend that Rachel Joyce’s Queenie is over the top with Harold!!

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