I’ve been meaning to read this book for two years–many people have recommended it to me, but I finally picked it up and couldn’t put it down until I was done. Initially, the story seemed endearing, but slowly revealed a more complex view of the world and of the characters. Harold receives a letter from an old friend, who writes to tell him she’s got cancer, so he writes a reply. He says to his wife he’s just going to post the letter, but then he keeps on walking. He decides to walk all the way to visit Queenie Hennessy, because he thinks maybe she’ll stay alive until he arrives–this hope/belief propels him.
On his journey, Harold has time to reconnect with old memories and hidden feelings, but he also creates new memories by experiencing the world in a completely different way since he retired from his job. Over the course of the book, his wife, Maureen, also experiences some new feelings and old memories as well. I particularly liked how the author Rachel Joyce slowly revealed elements of the characters and helped us understand motivation as well as thinking of each person. I also adored the short interactions Harold has with strangers–men with foot fetishes, widows with history, dogs with agendas.
Here’s my favorite quote from the book: “Harold believed his journey was truly beginning. He had thought it started the moment he decided to walk to Berwick, but he saw now that he had been naive. Beginnings could happen more than once, or in different ways. You should think you were starting something afresh, when actually what you were doing was carrying on as before.”
If you need a story with an uplifting, and ultimately, sweet, ending, check this book out.