Rachel Joyce – ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’

I ran out of time this week to write up my review of Ramble On: The Story of Our Love for Walking Britain by Sinclair McKay. Then I suddenly remembered that I had a review of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce lurking in my pre-blog review archives. 

The connection might not be immediately apparent, but it’s all about walking. Or, to go a little deeper, about the way that walking is so much more than just moving your legs to get from A to B, whether we’re talking physically, emotionally, psychologically or even spiritually.

So let’s have a couple of posts on walking. First up, Harold. And next time, Ramble On.

From the archives: Have you ever avoided the cracks in the pavement so something bad wouldn’t happen? If so, you’ll like Harold Fry. Harold receives a letter at his home in Kingsbridge, Devon from an old friend, Queenie, who is dying of cancer in a far away nursing home. Driven by mysterious forces beyond his comprehension, Harold decides that if he can walk the 600 miles to visit her, Queenie won’t die.

17119855This is a great book for those who are passionate about walking. The quote below beautifully illustrates my own feelings:

Maybe you saw even more than the land when you got out of the car and used your feet.

I’ve not read another book that captures so well the link between the act of walking and conscious (and unconscious) thought. It’s what happens to Harold – as he walks, he unlocks memories from his past and gains deeper, if painful, understanding of his present. It’s happened to me. Just putting one foot in front of the other seems to open pathways in the mind, bringing back long-forgotten things or helping to create new ideas.

This book is the embodiment of walking as therapy. It’ll resonate with anyone who’s ever walked their way out of an emotion or into a solution.

I thought it had a very honest ending; brutal but truthful and, like life, always with a glimmer of hope. This is the kind of book that reminds you of the small yet life-altering things that really matter.


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