“Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human.”
Meet Harold and his wife, Maureen. They have been married for a while, and yet they live like strangers, passing each other on the stairs and rarely talking to each other. How did they get to be like this? That is something that is explored in this book about an ordinary man doing an extraordinary thing.
One day, Harold received a letter from Queenie Hennessy (a woman he hadn’t heard from in 20 years) in the post. She is in hospice, writing to say goodbye. But while he is one his way to the postbox to mail his reply, a chance encounter with a girl at a Garage convinces him that he must embark on urgent quest to save Queenie. He dressed only in his yachting shoes and a light jacket when he sets out to walk 600 miles, from Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed (to put in perspective—from the bottom of England to the top). Along the journey, he has the opportunity to reflect on his life—upon his marriage and fatherhood, and come to accept his failings in both.
At the same time we are following Harold on his journey, we are also following Maureen as she comes to realize and accept how she has treated her husband throughout their marriage, and how she begins to fall back in love with her husband.
This was a quiet read, at times sombre, but often hopeful, showing the complexity of life. If you love redemption/quest stories, you will love this book!
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Song Pairing: I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers