02 Jul The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: Great, According to Good Reads
I enjoy the goodreads site (www.goodreads.com/book/show/13227454-the-unlikely-pilgrimage-of-harold-fry). It’s a great spot to hit if you want to read an array of reviews. In fact, I realize I should be contributing to said site! Why not post an LOL take on the novels we’ve read? I’ll add it to my ever-growing list of to-do’s….
While my personal opinion of this book is mixed, I found the reviews on goodreads to be largely favourable. In fact, the book generally receives four or five stars from most readers. Common sentiments are along the lines of “moving,” “inspiring,” “sweet,” “honest without being overly sentimental,” etc. Many readers commented that the book reminded them to embrace their own lives and to take chances, seize opportunities presented to them, for it is Harold’s painfully sad, dull life–the chances he didn’t take, the mistakes he did make– that finally motivate him to take a stab at getting it right.
I really enjoyed the book, but like some readers, I found it somewhat like Harold himself…a little long and dull in parts. The walk went on a little too long and when Harold’s journey becomes public after he meets a journalist who writes his story, things really slowed down for me. There is a section in which Harold becomes rather like Forest Gump on his run, with an entourage of followers trailing behind him. Some of these admirers are simply on a quest and see Harold as some sort of leader to something higher; others seem to have their own agendas aimed at personal fortune or fame via their relationship with Harold. That might truly occur around someone who would embark upon such a pilgrimage and I know Rachel Joyce was commenting on the pro’s and con’s of a public life and the insincerity of some followers and the power of social media to mislead, etc., but I couldn’t help but feel she’d recently watched Forest Gump when even Harold’s followers make up t-shirts for everyone to wear. It’s not that the section was unnecessary and I guess in hindsight it wasn’t that long, but it was a little slow.
When Harold does finally make it to Berwick-upon-Tweed but once again is paralyzed by his inability to act, I found myself getting a little annoyed…I knew he would eventually go in and see Queenie, so a part of me was like, “Okay, just get on with it. Time to wrap this story up.”
All that said…I’ve come away from the novel with a need for quiet reflection. It certainly does make one ponder one’s decisions and I for one shuddered at the thought of a life as dismal as Harold’s. Of course, the reader learns the real reason Harold and Maureen have become strangers in their own home and I can’t give it away or it would spoil the book…but it was really a sad, poignant tale that manages to shed light and bring hope in the end as Harold succeeds in his quest and begins life anew with Maureen (who has in turn pondered her own life and decisions in Harold’s absence).
Here then are a couple of reviews from goodreads, one favorable, one not so much.
Tomorrow eve is our LOL meeting chez moi! Can’t wait to gather with the girls to sip and savor…and hear if they were (or were not) in favor!
Michael’s Reviews > The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Most of the book is about regret and finding his way back to what matters. So, I get that, but it didn’t poke through my tough exterior, I guess. You have my permission to call me heartless.
I listened to the audio, which may be partly to blame for the plodding pace to the book. Still, Jim Broadbent was a great reader. I shall have to try to find him reading something else!
This book was on the longlist for the Booker, but didn’t make the shortlist. One book that did is also about a walk, but has far more complexity and emotional range. I’d recommend it entirely. (The Lighthouse)
I’m noticing that lately, books about humdrummity are really getting to me. I need some profundity and depth, or lacking that, some interesting characters with interesting lives.
Some of Harold’s observations:
“Life was very different when you walked through it.”
“Life is made up of people putting one foot in front of the other.”
“Nobody’s frightening, if you stop and listen.”