January’s choice was ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce. I have to admit that at first I struggled with this book; the lives of the main characters just seemed too parochial and slow. Although they were meant to be in their seventies, they just seemed much older than this. But this book grew on me. I came to like the characters and the story became more compelling. I’m not afraid to admit that I sobbed at the end.
The story follows Harold, who receives a letter from an ex-work colleague who is dying of cancer. Instead of writing back to the hospice, he decides to walk to Berwick-upon-Tweed in an effort to keep her alive. He lives in Devon so this is a quite a journey, especially he has no map or walking shoes. On the way, we learn more about Harold and his relationship with his wife. We also learn why he feels so strongly about Queenie, his friend who is dying.
Despite my initial misgivings, I ended up loving this book. It’s very sad, but it’s also uplifting. It made me question a few things about my own life, and when a book does that, it can’t be a bad thing.
My February book is ‘The Shock of the Fall’ by Nathan Filer. We’re actually reading this for my book club and we chose it before it recently won the Costa prize. One of my fellow book clubbers knows the author’s agent. She’s been saying for a while that the book is brilliant. We had to find out for ourselves.
This is a quote from the back cover:
‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’
I know it’s going to be good.