The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

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I have a rule about books: if it involves death in the first chapter, I generally don’t read it, because I feel it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the story.

I made an exception for this novel by Rachel Joyce, because it comes highly recommended and I have yet to decide if I made the right choice or not. Its a very emotional read, as you walk with Harold Fry, who leaves home one day to post a letter to an old colleague dying of cancer and never goes home. Instead he decides to walk from his town at the bottom of England, to hers at the top of the country, where she is in a hospice, in a move of faith and in the hope of saving her from terminal illness.

In terms of construction, Joyce is a master. The story flows well, the characters are rounded, and the fact that the themes of redemption, forgiveness and healing from the past are fluidly woven together makes an excellent read. However, it is just a really sad story.

It ends on a high and beautiful note, and I think I’m glad I read it. I paired this one with the 2007 Spookfontein Phantom, a bordeaux-style blend that is well constructed and fruity, with berry flavours. If we’re talking about dealing with ghosts from the past, then this wine goes perfectly with this book.

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