The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was recommended by a friend in the book biz: “Have I sent you a copy of …………………?” So there it was a week later, the Advance Reader’s Edition in my hands. Right now it is almost six-thirty in the morning, nightstand light turned on, and Mr. Fry is into the second day of his unplanned pilgrimage.
Reading in bed can be a bit dicey, especially in the early morning hours when it’s often more of an invitation to fall back to sleep than to reach the next chapter. This morning, as Harold Fry was taking note of the English countryside as though seen for the first time, and becoming a more complex character than first proffered, I began to wonder about the person who had recommended this particular title. A few months earlier, in a list of titles he thought worthy of note, he had strongly suggested The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. If nothing else, Harold Fry would appear to be a poster child for introverts, and to my mind no pilgrimage, regardless of its purpose, could remain solitary for very long (i.e. Geoffrey Chaucer) and so of course Fry’s pilgrimage was unlikely.
I kept thinking about the person who recommended the book. What part of this book appealed most to him? And when did he know Fry’s story, his unlikely pilgrimage, was something that I would particularly like? And how telling that the author, Rachel Joyce, knew it was important for her protagonist to recognize early on that he was seeing things, much more than just the countryside, as if for the first time.
When I rose for my morning cup of tea, Harold Fry was more than a week into his journey. I took my cup and book out to the deck where I hunkered down for another hour. The birds were up, the Truckee was flowing and, so far, the blue sky was cloud-free. It was a strange feeling because I was not alone on Mr. Fry’s unlikely pilgrimage. My friend who had read the book before me had made the same pilgrimage and I suppose that every person who reads this novel will become a fellow pilgrim. I’m certain many will recommend this book when it comes out in July and I suspect that those who follow the recommendations will, at some point in the story, stop to think about the person who recommended it. It is Harold Fry’s journey, but without giving it away, it is also my journey, and my friend’s, and will be yours by the time you finish reading it. We will all know each other just a little more than we had before reading Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
There’s not a chance I’ll pass up reviewing this book. -ss