The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: A multimedia review.

Harold_Fry_CoverThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is about family secrets, regrets, shame, blame and the baggage we carry from the past. It is about the moment of reckoning, when all of the emotion comes bursting forth and demands to be understood. For Harold Fry, that moment comes when he receives a letter from a woman who he used to work with many years ago, and who now lies in a hospice at the other end of the country. Intending to send her a response by mail, Harold leaves his wife vacuuming in the hall and steps out to post the letter. But something happens inside his head and heart during the short walk to the box, and he doesn’t return. Instead, he continues to walk. On and on, a journey of months and several hundred miles, towards Queenie.

Your sample of passages, made misty and nostalgic with the help of Instagram: (click to enlarge & read descriptions)

A poetic voice to accompany Harold’s:

T.S. Eliot – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (excerpts only…)

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.


And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?


And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

Read the whole poem here

And as for the song… could there have been any other?! 500 Miles, by the Proclaimers

One thought on “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: A multimedia review.

  1. Dear nadine, Only now am i checking things on the laptop and here this was, posted the day before I left to visit you.

    You mentioned it to me and and I made off with the book which I read very nearly entirely on the journey home. And so loved it.

    So now I read your posting and I’m truly impressed with your new take on a review. Multi media indeed and why not? I’m not aware of anyone else doing it but I wouldn’t know. I hope you’re the first one to have the inspiration. So rich and perceptive. of course having only just emerged ffrom the novel, I was primed for it and loved it.

    As for using the T.S.Eliot Prufrock . . . I haven’t read that for years and that was when i was teaching I think. You’re right on the button re how appropriate it is. Such a match. You have to wonder if Rachel Joyce had it in mind?

    ANyway your copy will be on its way back to you soon and I’m enjoying the gothic twists and turns of A Suitable Wife too.

    Do hope you’ve received the 7 emails of photos. I’m really pleased with them and keep wanting to go over them, though they’re not needed to revive memories. My head is very much full of the visit and I’m v grateful to you and Malc for making it so comfortable and interesting. And the catchup with 3inabus was precious.

    Will be thinking of you all round the tree on Xmas day and will try to contact. When do you leave for Oman and is the camping gear all sorted? Love, Lynleyxxxxx

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