When Harold Fry received a letter from a friend he hadn’t heard from in more than 20 years telling him she was dying of cancer, he hardly knew how to respond. The letter brought back a rustle of memories, but still, what could he say after all this time? Finally, Harold sat down and wrote a short note back telling his friend, Queenie Hennessy, that he was sorry to hear it and wished her well.
Walking down to the post office to mail the letter, Harold was gripped by the insufficiency of his response. Procrastinating, he decided to walk down to the next post office in hope of inspiration. Before long, he found himself heading further away from home as he sought out post office after post office. Eventually he came to a new town where he was inspired by a gas station store clerk to keep the faith and that by doing so, maybe she would live.
Spurred by a desire to keep her alive and a willingness to leave behind a wife who had long since stopped loving him, Harold wrote on the envelope that he was going to come to her, and she should stay alive until he got there to say goodbye. What began as a lark soon became a pilgrimage for Harold. As he walked 627 miles over 87 days to reach Queenie, Harold had plenty of time to think of his failed marriage, his miserable childhood, and his inability to show his son David love.
This profoundly moving novel takes the reader along the journey with Harold as he tries to change the future with his pilgrimage, and maybe even the past. This is an outstanding debut novel that belongs on the top of the list of every book club.
Random House; ISBN 978-0-81299-329-5; $25.