Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Happy Saturday! I hope you're having a great weekend. Mine has been filled with books so far, which is good because I've overdone it at the library again and have 20 books out and have several of my own books out hoping to be read soon. Oops. Fortunately, last night I managed to finish The Portrait of a Lady, which I read sloooooooowly, so it's nice to be finished. I'll post a review of it tomorrow. Today I spent a little time with Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot while curled up in a chair listening to the RAIN!!!! It has been a while since we've had a good rain here, or really anything more than a sprinkle, and it's been so hot most of the summer, so it was nice to see temps in the 70s instead of the 100s and watch the storm roll through. Once the sun came out I turned to something lighter, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

I'll be honest - when I heard about this book, I was quite confused about the massive amount of buzz. An elderly gentleman walks out on his wife to walk 500 miles across England to see a woman dying of cancer? Why not drive? Take a train? Catch a bus? It just seemed really idiotic. But, I was curious as to why it was getting so much praise, so I decided to try it.

I read it in almost one sitting, so clearly it's engrossing. Harold's an interesting guy - you see several sides to him, see him as a man, husband, son, father, coworker, friend. He came alive. His irrational decisions made him seem almost more real - humans aren't purely rational yet we sometimes want characters to be so. I accepted his ridiculous journey despite the stupidity of it. I became interested in his wife Maureen and her side of the story. I wanted to know what happened between Harold and Queenie and between Harold and his son David. I wanted to know why Maureen and Harold's marriage grew strained over the years.

The story pulled me along, entertaining me and making me celebrate humanity's resilience and determination. As Harold pursues his purpose, it becomes clear that retirement doesn't mean the end, that you can no longer accomplish something just because you're old. There will always be things to do, goals to set, people to meet. So in that way, it's an uplifting story that celebrates humanity.

However. There were a few plot points that annoyed me to no end and made me want to destroy all the humans. First up were the people who join Harold. There's a good reason I'm not God. I would totally strike down every single one of those people, starting with Rich. This group erased any positive feelings I was having about humans. They also made me turn on Harold and start screaming at him in my head. The next two items are spoilers, so avert your eyes if you don't want to see them!

Harold gets to Queenie and then does not thank her. Seriously???? You did all that and then you can't even say thanks? I'm confused. Did that line get accidentally cut in the editing process? I know he's thrown by seeing her, but really? Then, when we learn the truth about David I wanted to track down Rachel Joyce and punch her for making me invest in this storyline and have her trick me like that. You can not have a surprise twist that does not make sense with the entire rest of the plotline!!! That's not a surprise twist, that's just lazy writing. You can do shocking twists in ways that make sense, like in Gone Girl, you just have to be smart about it.

Despite my serious frustrations with some of the stuff at the end, I still enjoyed most of the reading experience and wouldn’t steer people away necessarily. If you want to see what the buzz is about, it's a fast entertaining read and clearly most people aren't as annoyed about the few items as I was.

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