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theunlikelypilgramageofharoldfryWhen Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.

In this modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress, the author manages to prevent the story slipping into a saccharine stupor which could alienate many readers. Whilst it hardly seems feasible that a pensioner would undertake such a daunting expedition with no preparation and just a pair of old yacht shoes, I was charmed by this unassuming gentleman and equally intrigued by his past, present and future. It’s a gentle story but it has powerful themes – love, family relationships, marital breakdown, bereavement, attitudes to the elderly, faith, materialism.

I laughed, I wept, but most importantly, Harold made me stop, catch my breath and take stock of what’s important in life. A beautifully written novel ideal for those who enjoy gentlepaced narratives which make you think.

Rachel Joyce has written over twenty original plays for BBC Radio 4 and her debut novel stems from one of those plays.

Book Review by Emma Corfield-Walters

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