The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

July 29, 2018

July’s Most Compelling Character

At month’s end I enjoy identifying the most memorable, compelling, or unforgettable character from the month’s reading. In addition, I’ll provide a Link Up (below) if you’d like to add your own blog post.

compelling character

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Genre/categories: Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Life Reflection

Summary:

Harold Fry is recently retired and lives in a small English village with his wife. After a long marriage, they have their differences but have settled into an amicable, predictable, and manageable daily routine. One day, a letter arrives for Harold from a woman (former co worker) that he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie is writing from a hospice to say goodbye. In the process of mailing his reply, Harold decides that he must deliver his message in person and decides to walk. As Harold impulsively sets out on his quest, he figures out the logistics of the six hundred mile journey as he goes. On the way he meets interesting people, finds plenty of time to reflect back on his life, and confronts some unsettling thoughts and feelings that he has buried. Amazon Rating: 4.3 Stars

Meet Harold Fry

Like many of us, Harold has managed to survive life’s circumstances. His mother abandoned him and his father had little time for him and shoved him out the door when he was sixteen. Harold survived a less than meaningful job, an angry boss, and his marriage has lost its shine. Despite difficult circumstances, he was a responsible employee, a faithful and loyal husband, and did the best he could. Like some of us, he also suffered a personal tragedy (which I can’t describe here because it is a spoiler). On this pilgrimage to deliver his letter to Queenie, Harold finds that the solitary act of walking offers a new perspective and this new pace gives him time to notice things and the time to thoughtfully reflect on the past and evaluate his actions and decisions. On this sometimes treacherous journey, he examines regrets and accepts loss, wrestles with grief and faith, and finds joy, healing, and acceptance.

“Life was very different when you walked through it.”

The journey itself is a metaphor for life. Despite life’s disappointments, he’s determined to do something about it. Harold sets a goal, is faced with challenges, overcomes difficulties, meets an assortment of people, and benefits from the help and compassion of many good people along the way.

“He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others.”

Honest and authentic, Harold is truly an unforgettable and compelling character.

Recommended for readers who appreciate poignant themes, a quest for meaning and purpose, and beautiful, thoughtful, and reflective writing. Even though it’s character driven, this endearing story has just enough drama and plot to keep me engaged. This story might appeal more to older readers who have faced more of life’s challenges and disappointments.

Rachel Joyce, author of The Music Shop, has become one of my favorite authors, and I’m glad I read this back title that I missed somehow when it was first published.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded up to 5 Stars on Goodreads)

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Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Rachel Joyce

Rachel JoyceRachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was short-listed for the Commonwealth Book Prize and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into thirty-six languages. Joyce was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards New Writer of the Year in 2012. She is also the author of the digital short story A Faraway Smell of Lemon and is the award-winning writer of more than thirty original afternoon plays and classic adaptations for BBC Radio 4. Rachel Joyce lives with her family in Gloucestershire.



Link Up

July’s most compelling character: add your blog link here or leave a comment. Click on the Blue Frog to see Link Ups.



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Give Away!

There’s still time to enter my giveaway for A Place For Us. This link will take you to the Blogiversary Give Away post.

My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read about half of the list, some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Looking Ahead:

 I look forward to providing a July wrap up on 7/31. I’m currently reading An American Marriage (I’ve read mixed reviews of this Oprah Book Club selection so we’ll see how it goes).

An American Marriage

Amazon Information Here



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss!

Who was the most compelling character from your reading this month? Join the Link Up (above) or leave a comment.

What are you reading this week?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.

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The Deal of a Lifetime

November 24, 2017

What would you be prepared to sacrifice in order to save a life?

What footprints are you leaving in your life? For what or how will you be remembered?

The Deal of a Lifetime
by Frederik Backman

The Deal of a Lifetime 2

Genre/categories: literary fiction, contemporary fiction, adult fairy tale, ambition, self reflection, end of life

Summary:

In true Backman style, this is an intricately woven story of an unlovable, complex, and flawed character whom we begin to understand and care about as he faces the end of his life. Written as a last message from father to son and told like a fairy tale for adults, it’s a story of a legacy, ambition and success at all costs, fear of failure, the meaning of life, the commodity of time, an accounting of one’s life, and a father/son relationship. I hesitate to give details of the plot in this summary because I don’t want to spoil your read. Briefly, it’s the story of a successful and famous man in the mid years of his life counting the personal cost of his achievements and striking a last deal to make things right.

Although it’s sold as a novella, I consider it a short story. In reading Amazon reviews, I found that several readers that gave a 3 Star or lower rating cited their disappointment at the shortness of the work when they were expecting something longer for the price. I think this definitely affected the overall Amazon rating.

Amazon Rating (November): 3.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

This is a poignant, sad, thought-provoking, and compelling fairy tale for all adults who are contemplating the meaning and purpose of their lives. It’s a captivating and endearing last message from father to son.

In my opinion, this brilliant short story requires at least two reads. The first time through, I was preoccupied with the story line; and the second time, I focused on its deeper meaning and gained a greater appreciation for this beautifully crafted story. (I also raised my star rating!)

Be sure to read Backman’s forward as he explains his purposes for writing the story. This is an excerpt:

“Maybe all people have that feeling deep down, that your hometown is something you can never really escape, but can never really go home to, either. Because it’s not home anymore. We’re not trying to make peace with it. Not with the streets and bricks of it. Just with the person we were back then. And maybe forgive ourselves for everything we thought we would become and didn’t.”  ~Backman

In the story, the man (self-described as ambitious, famous, rich, powerful, and an egoist) and a five-year-old girl are both in the hospital and battling cancer.  Every night, “a woman in a thick, grey, knitted jumper walks the hospital’s corridors. She carries a folder. She has all [their] names written inside.” Here begins the story of a man making the final deal of his lifetime.

“…I’ve killed a person. That’s not how fairy tales usually begin, I know. But I took a life. Does it make a difference if you know whose it was…..Does it make a difference if I killed a good person? A loved person? A valuable life?”
 ~Backman’s opening lines

If we were in an IRL book club together, these are some discussion questions I might ask:

  • Did the deal the man make release him from accountability for his life’s choices?
  • Did the deal the man make continue to demonstrate his selfishness and need for power or does it reveal his selflessness?
  • Now that you’ve read the story, does the title have more meaning for you?
  • In the story, Backman says that the man’s wife has already given her life for her family. What do you think this means and can you relate to this sentiment? Is this an old-fashioned or out dated idea?
  • Do you concur with Backman that time is our only commodity?
  • How do you evaluate the point of view from which the story is told? Is it a concern that we don’t hear the son’s perspective? Do you think the man has an accurate perception of the son’s feelings toward his dad?
  • Discuss the validity of this quote (part of the justification for how he’s chosen to live) : “Happy people don’t create anything, their world is one without art and music and skyscrapers, without discoveries and innovations.
    All leaders, all of your heroes, they’ve been obsessed. Happy people don’t get obsessed, they don’t devote their lives to curing illnesses or making planes take off. The happy leave nothing.”

Recommendation:

I love this book! I’m highly recommending it for fans of Backman, for those who appreciate the beauty of short stories, and for readers who might enjoy a thoughtful adult fairy tale about the purpose and meaning of life.

My Rating: 4.5  Stars
(if it had been a bit longer, I would’ve rated it 5 stars, but at the same time I acknowledge that it takes tremendous skill to write a profound short story)

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The Deal of a Lifetime

Buy Here

 

Meet the Author, Fredrik Backman

Frederick Backman

 

Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. His other novels are AND EVERY MORNING THE WAY HOME GETS LONGER AND LONGER, BEARTOWN, and BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @baLoockmanland, or on instagram @backmansk.

 

 

***Linking up with Puppies and Pretties for Reading Lately/November 2017


Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


Extras:

Emily of New MoonAs part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club, I read Emily of New Moon  (November selection) over the past two weeks. Somehow I missed reading this classic when I was a younger reader. Great literature can be enjoyed by all ages, and I enjoyed the read! If you haven’t read this, I’d encourage you to pick it up. In general, I encourage readers to occasionally read or reread a classic. It’s always amazing to me to read these older stories and appreciate  the freedom , choices, and power women have today compared to the past, and to gain understanding of how restrictive ideas for women’s behaviors were portrayed and how that came to affect our lives as women in my generation grew up. It always makes me more cognizant of the words I use today when talking with young women. I want to be part of empowering women to be all they are created to be.

A Wrinkle in Time

 

Do you plan to reread Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle before the movie release in March 2018? Or if you don’t know Meg as a literary hero, I urge you to pick up this science fiction story soon! The movie trailer will release this weekend (Sunday November 26), but there is a teaser trailer available now (see link). More Information Here
Movie Information Here

 

Wonder

 

 

 


Looking Ahead!

I’m giving myself a break from heavier reading this next week as the season gets busier and returning to the lovely, delightful, and relaxing No 1 Ladies’ Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith for the recent installment (#18): The House of Unexpected Sisters

Do you follow and read the series?

House of Unexpected Sisters

 

 

 

 

Summary and Purchase Information Here

 

 


Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.


Let’s Discuss!

Have you discovered Fredrik Backman’s work? Which of his books have you read? Do you have favorites? They are all very different!, thus ranking is a difficult task. However, this is  an attempt to rank my favorites: A Man Called Ove, Beartown, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, The Deal of a Lifetime, Brit-Marie Was Here, and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Which were your favorites? Gift yourself with some Backman while you’re shopping this year!