OK, I’ll come clean, there has been a little confusion as to whether The Artist and myself, Molly, Ralph and Kat are in fact living in Provence at the moment. As I’m not very good at lying, I have to admit that as much as I love living in Provence, we decided that since we are neither independently rich, nor retired, we needed to regroup and reconnect with colleagues, agents, galleries and friends and remind them of our existence (out of sight out of mind and all that) and we are in fact living, for six months at least in Nailsworth, in the Cotswolds, U.K.
Besides it being a foodie town, with a great deli, organic food shops, cafés and restaurants, Nailsworth also seems to attract a lot of Artists and Writers and the other evening we were exited to be invited to the book launch for local writer, Rachel Joyce’s debut novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. at Hobbs House Bakery (home to Fabulous Baker Brother, Tom Herbert). It is Joyce’s debut novel and tells the story of Harold Fry, a very ordinary man, who one day leaves his house to post a letter to a colleague he hasn’t seen for twenty years who is dying in a hospice in Berwick-on-Tweed. Her name is Queenie and there is some unfinished business between the two which weighs heavily on Harold’s mind, and he decides that instead of posting the letter he will walk the 600 odd miles to deliver the letter personally.
The fact that part of the journey goes practically past our house adds to the pleasure of reading the book. I say pleasure, but in actual fact, the reading isn’t always that pleasurable and I found myself going through the same doubts and fears for the journey ahead as Harold does himself; just as he is despairing about the many miles he still has to walk with blistered feet and a lame leg, I found myself counting the number of pages I still had to read to get to the end. But then as Harold pushes on and his faith in his mission is restored and his walking pace picks up again, I too found myself eagerly turning the pages again,
As Harold walks, his wife Maureen is at home going through her own journey and the tight knot that is their relationship starts to unravel. The story is about loss, regret, love and redemption and how, if we believe enough, we can achieve things we never thought possible.
It is a very warm and up lifting book and Joyce manages to make you feel like you are right there walking beside Harold, sharing his pain and joy along the way. The story of his life unfolds as the journey progresses and by the end of the book I had become so attached to him I didn’t want to say goodbye. Oh and I almost forgot to mention, a dog also joins him for some of the way,
along with a motley band of people who decide to take on his cause.
The book is beautifully bound and there are lovely illustrations by Andrew Davidson (who also lives nearby) to accompany the text.
If you would like to join the pilgrimage and read the book, I am giving away a free copy to one lucky reader. To take part, leave a comment here about a journey you would like to undertake and I will choose a winner using a random number generator on the 2nd April. Also why not go to Harold Fry’s facebook page and like that too and don’t forget to tweet about it all you tweeters out there.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is published in the UK by Transworld Publishers and by Random House in the U.S. on the 24th July.