A Journey Worth Taking
By Rachel Joyce
Random House, $25.00, 286 pages
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the story of a man lost in his own life. After retiring from his job, Harold spends most of his days reclined in his easy chair in rural England. When Harold receives a letter from a long time co-worker informing him she is dying of cancer, Harold doesn’t know what to do. Before long he is on the road, walking to visit his long-lost friend 500 miles away.
Possibly the best aspect of this book is how closely it follows the model of many pilgrimage books before it. Much like The Pilgrim’s Progress a solitary figure sets out with a goal in mind. Some days he meets helpful characters, and some days he is sent off course by others’ selfish desires. Author Rachel Joyce takes this story a step beyond a simple pilgrimage by allowing the character to work through his family history, and come to terms with lifelong issues like abandonment and neglect.
It seems a bit cliché to say there is nothing wrong with this book, but upon finishing the last page there were no imperfections to speak of. Every page is perfectly crafted, and it feels by turning the page you are traveling along with Harold. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a journey anyone can benefit from taking.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser