Homer's Travels: Book: Rachel Joyce's "The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry"

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book: Rachel Joyce's "The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry"

My latest read caught my eye last spring when I was preparing for my 2013 Camino.  I dismissed it when I discovered it was a work of fiction ... I'd been looking for non-fiction pilgrimage literature.  Anyone who has done the Camino knows how, after successfully completing the walk, the word 'pilgrimage' tends to pop out more and attracts your attention.  That's what happened with this book.  Now that I've returned from the Camino I decided to give it try so I read Rachel Joyce's "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry".

The book follows the main character, Harold Fry, on an impromptu pilgrimage from his home in far southern England to visit a dying friend in far northern Scotland.  The descriptions of the issues he has with his feet and legs are a better representation of long pilgrimages than most non-fiction literature - the best write up that I've ever seen really.  Most pilgrimage books gloss over the physical issues.

While Harold is walking to help save his dying friend, Queenie, he in fact saves himself and his marriage.  While walking the back roads of England and Scotland he has time to think about, and come to terms with,  his relationship with his estranged son and wife.  At the same time, his wife, who stays home, has the same spiritual transformation.  The ordeal Harold imposes on himself is imposed on her as well and they both grow because of it.

This is not my type of literature.  I tend to be a Science Fiction/Fantasy/Tech type of guy and there is none of that in this book but I also like a good story.  "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" is a good story.  Highly Recommended.