Harold Fry’s Heroic Life

We know all too well people whose lives are lived in quiet desperation. At first, this seems to describe Harold Fry’s life. As the miles unroll under Harold’s feet and the memories of his life reveal themselves, we find that assumption wrong. Instead, the shattered pieces of Harold’s life fit together, picturing a life of unexpected love lost and a mute struggle to regain that love after 20 years of frozen grief. Warped and distorted as Harold’s life had been, his life had also been an act of heroism. Once seen in context, Harold’s pilgrimage was anything but unlikely.

Rachel Joyce writes eloquent prose. Occasionally, she uses vulgar language, jarring the reader out of the story. She needs no vulgarity to show her characters’ personalities. She sketches them in with a few words and a sure hand. She uses the same skill to describe the places through which Harold walks. Several times, I reread passages simply for the beauty of the description. Ms. Joyce drew me into the story and made me care about Harold and Maureen, his wife. And when the story came to an end, it was a very satisfying end. Congratulations, Ms. Joyce on a fine first novel.

(I received a free advanced reader’s copy of the book for review.)