I recently joined a new book club called Accidental Book Club, a sort of book club for beginners (since a few of us have never been in one before), and this month we were supposed to read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, as well as, the Judy Blume book I recently talked about. Not that we are supposed to compare the two books but I thoroughly enjoyed this one more than the Blume book. I have a soft spot in my heart for old men, especially nice old men.
My Grandfather was a quiet man. He was playful with us kids but he also enjoyed his solitude. He would go on long walks in the morning by himself and, once in a while, I was able to go on walks with him. He would always walk holding his hands behind his back, which I have always thought was a very friendly way to walk. He had a past but he didn’t talk about it and never took out any stresses on his family members or anyone else … although, maybe it would have been better to at least mention some problems to his wife as he died from cancer very suddenly, or, at least, suddenly for us. I mention my Grandfather because Harold Fry reminds me of him and although I knew my grandfather for only a short 18 years, I will always think of him with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. One could only hope to have such an impact on another person once this life has ended.
Harold Fry lived a life believing he had made no such impact on anyone’s life and caused only pain and suffering. Imagine believing you are one big mistake for 70 years of your life and to finally do something spontaneous and treacherous and seemingly impossible because you believe you need to do something worth while in this life time. We’ve all heard the line that goes something like it’s not about the destination but the journey, well, nothing could be more true for Mr Fry. Harold was not only walking 500 miles for a dear friend who was dying but for his own life and what happens to him on this pilgrimage is life changing.
I loved this book. I loved the simple idea – a man going for a walk to save a friend. The different emotions Harold feels and people and places he encounters along the way seem so real and honest. You are on this journey with him. I’m not sure I would have handled certain situations and people the way he did but I understood his choices.
If you’re interested in the book, I borrowed it from the library and it’s going back today. I recommend it.
And that’s in my uneducated opinion.