Have you ever had that remorseful pang of regret? You know, the kind that comes when you look back on a past opportunity with a morose notion of all the “if onlys” and “what ifs”. Whether it was that subtle exchange of glances in street or the fleeting words of comfort to a stranger; we’ve all had those moments. Each of us has had times when we look back and in our melancholic wisdom think: “I should’ve done more”. For Harold Fry, it has been these moments that made up a lifetime. Each memory accompanied by that all too familiar dagger of shame.
Fresh into his retirement, Harold finds himself at a loss for purpose. Forty-odd years of dutiful employment would leave a feeling of accomplishment to most, yet dear old Mr. Fry only has a hungry hole in his chest grumbling with uncertainty. Staring down at the mundane plate of breakfast, he mulls this life he has “lived” over with bland complacence, that is until, he collects the mail. Whilst his wife gnaws on his ears with her talk of jam and marmalade, Harold reads a letter. ‘Good lord. It’s from Queenie Hennessy.” He exclaims. An old acquaintance, perhaps an old friend, sending her regards to Harold and his wife; and also to say goodbye. Miss Queenie Hennessy is dying. Harold pens a sombre reply with a world of regret behind his glassy eyes yet as he stands in front of that post box, letter in hand, he decides that there will be no more fear, no more regret. Harold Fry was going to save her life.
The debut novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry from author Rachel Joyce is a fair stroll from my preferred style of writing however the immediate quirky sadness of this story really captured my tastes the second I sank my teeth into it. A genuine depiction of something, I think, we are all a little afraid of; Harold Fry is the embodiment of emotional redemption, yet in a way unlike anything I have ever seen. Reflective and remorseful, honest and heartfelt this is truly a story that punched me right in heart with it’s uplifting yet sullenly humbling style of representative expression. With each page the tears will gather only to be laughed off further down the line letting you see all sides of the human heart in this charming little adventure into our lives. Perhaps Harold is not only out to save the life of an old friend but to save the lives of all who take the time to witness his journey.
~ Michael, QBD Plenty Valley