The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce

Life is a complicated business. We make odd choices, say things we regret, hurt the people close to us, and stray from the path we’d imagined for ourselves. It happens to everyone, to a greater or lesser extent.

It happened to Harold and Maureen Fry, 20 years ago. But when a delicate pink envelope arrives in the mail, Harold is forced to examine how far off course he’s strayed, and to confront a multitude of memories and regrets. Feeling isolated and inadequate, he takes a walk, and strikes out on an unplanned and entirely unexpected new course. He’s ill equipped and inappropriately attired, but by simply putting one foot in front of the other, he starts to restore his faith in himself. Quite by accident, he finds himself connecting with strangers, providing hope through chance encounters, and even, briefly, sparking a pilgrimage craze.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the kind of book that reels you in gently, and then hooks you so that you’re compelled to put everything else on hold until you reach the end. It’s quite likely to cause some reflection on one’s own path – on why we say things we don’t mean, and fail to say what we really should. It might even occasion a little stroll, to pick up the phone and reconnect with an old friend, or to amble over and give someone an appreciative hug. Because life is, after all, about connecting with people, and we can always be better at that.

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