Book and a Movie—The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

. . . ignore the evidence and imagine something bigger, something infinitely more beautiful than the obvious.

What would you do if you had an empty calendar, an empty heart, and a letter from an old friend who is dying 600 miles away? Probably not walk the length of England in boat shoes in order to give her a reason to live. But with spontaneity that redefines the word, Harold Fry, the retired Everyman, leaves his carping wife behind and does just that. Along the way, he discovers nature, pain, and the kindness of strangers. He reflects on the many disappointments and few joys of his life. And Forrest Gump-like, he amasses an outrageous troupe of followers.

Rachel Joyce’s 2012 debut novel, long-listed for the Mann Booker Prize, was hailed as charming, funny, and insightful. Oprah called it “(a) gorgeously poignant novel of hope and transformation.” I wish I’d heeded the rare Everyreader reviews instead which cited a slow start, a disappointing finish, and miles of prolonged suffering in between. Trigger warnings to anyone dealing with aging, depression, cancer, addiction, death, or loveless relationships in their life or that of someone they love—which is pretty much all of us, right? To say that this book delivers on its promise, i.e. the power of faith in the face of reality, is a half-truth.

For a complete plot summary with spoilers, watch

To hear the author’s summary and intent about empathy . . . and doing something against the odds, watch this interview. s

I’m not saying you shouldn’t take this journey, but I am saying you should pack a compass and Band-Aids for the emotional wounds it will rub raw.