The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce was this month’s book club read and one that proved quite popular.

We loved the show don’t tell concept of the first chapter, highlighting the undertone’s of the Fry’s marriage and thought the author had done a pretty good job of creating a very unassuming character in Harold Fry and great observations of normal people.

His meeting of the girl at the Garage was integral to the story, but probably told us that sometimes the truth is bent a little to adapt to the situation.  His hangers-on were also quite truthful of today’s society that the journey became more about them then it was about Harold’s innocent pilgrimage.

One member observed that Harold showed signs of early Alzheimers; certainly his short term memory let him down throughout the journey but his long term memory haunted him.

Many thought the fact that we learnt of Harold’s sons death later on in the novel was misleading, very much like their relationship.  We saw Harold beat himself up on a number of occasions that he hadn’t been close to his son but was it the truth that there was no bond?  We certainly wondered whether his son had actually gained a degree at all and telling his parents to meet him at the wrong place was just a cover for this.

The kindness of people on the road was one of the reasons Harold was able to continue.  The fact that he carried little objects was perhaps a metaphor for baggage, yet we debated the reality of him surviving with so little.

The journey was definitely atonement for all that happened previously but showed that the end result was not always how you intended it to be.

Harold’s marriage also played an underlying theme throughout the book.  I thought strongly that the marriage would have disintegrated if not for the journey, whilst others felt it would just plod on,  reminiscent of that generation.  The changing character of his wife was wonderful and the fact that she showed ‘tough love’ during his journey was the catalyst to spur him on.

Did Queenie wait for Harold, or was it just fate that she survived long enough to meet him?  Certainly we debated this and were split in our decision.

All in all, we agreed that this book had much depth to it; ordinary people doing extraordinary things!

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