Harold Fry is a very ordinary man. He’s retired and living in the southeast of England with his wife, from whom he’s somewhat estranged. He’s a man of quiet routines, the sort of person who does the same thing at the same time every day. His son has been alienated from him for a long time, though we don’t, at first, know why or how that happened. You would assume that he would go on in more or less the same way for the rest of his life, and Harold himself would probably agree with you.
Until one day he gets a letter from Queenie Hennessey, someone he knew from his days as a sales rep for a brewery. Her letter tells him she’s dying of cancer in a hospice in Berwick, in Scotland. Moved by an impulse, he writes her a sort of sympathy note and sets out to mail it. But as he starts on his way, he passes mailbox after mailbox, and finally decides a letter isn’t going to cut it. He mails the letter and calls the hospice, leaving a message for Queenie, telling her he’s walking to see her and she should stay alive at least until he gets there. And he begins walking.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, takes readers with Harold on his journey, and we at the Field Notes Book Group will be going along with him in November. We’ll be reading the book and discussing it at the Field Library Gallery on November 19 from 11:00 to 12:30. Come and join us! As always, there will be copies of the book behind the circulation desk to be checked out, and we’ll have coffee and donuts at the meeting. Hope to see you there!