The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2013)

by Rachel Joyce

Bland, unadventurous Harold Fry is recently retired and unsure of what to do with himself. His wife, Maureen, barely tolerates him as she wishes for the return of the son who left them. One day Harold gets a letter from the other side of the UK: Queenie, with whom he worked 20 years before, has terminal cancer.

Harold owes Queenie a debt for covering for him in a workplace incident for which she was fired. He goes out to mail a letter to her but walks past the mailbox and doesn’t stop walking. Wearing his boat shoes, with no change of clothes and no cellphone, Harold decides to walk 600 miles to deliver the letter in person, figuring he will keep Queenie alive. Along the way he meets several characters who influence his growth in different ways. Memories rush in, and he comes to terms with his regrets.

As readers will expect, Harold is changed by his pilgrimage. His marriage is also changed; Maureen sees him in a new light and remembers why she fell in love.

Rachel Joyce wrote Queenie’s story in The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (2016).


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