I finished reading Rachel Joyce’s The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey (Transworld, 2014) a little while ago. There haven’t been as many book reviews on here as I’d like lately, because of the summer holidays, and trying to move house, which isn’t leaving much space in my head, and this isn’t really a review either… But over the summer, mari and I went separately to the library for some books to take on holiday, and both came back with a copy of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Transworld, 2012) . I’d gone specifically to look for it, having missed it when it first came out, and wanting to read it before Queenie, about which I’d heard a lot of good things.
I found it gripping, yet almost unbearably poignant in parts, and was often reading in the middle of the night while fighting back the tears – I blame stress and sleep deprivation for that bit. I ended up finishing the book sitting in the car in a queue at Calais ferry port, trying not to smudge my make up and wondering what I was going to fill the time on the boat with now…
Queenie’s story is described as a companion rather than a sequel and, fortunately, it didn’t have the same lachrymose effect. It is, however, also wonderfully told and gives a real human voice to its characters, and the difficulties of relationships, whether marriage, unrequited love, or family ties in general. And despite the sadness, which I found real and deep, there is also hope, and life, redemption and release.
These are wonderful books and highly recommended. You just might want a box of tissues to hand!