#EmptyShelf 2016 #8: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (via @TansyJTweets)

harold-fryThanks Tansy for buying this for my birthday last year … get me reading it before the next birthday has rolled around 🙂 Another book that may have taken me into another early morning read on the second night of reading!!

Harold Fry, retired but 6 months, receives a letter from a friend (who he hasn’t seen for 20 years, and who he feels he has wronged) who is dying from cancer. He decides to reply, heads out to post the letter in his yachting shoes, a cheap coat, wallet in back pocket – walks past one postbox, then another, then another – then unexpectedly decides to walk from South Devon, to Berwick-upon-Tweed – truly “I would walk 500 miles” come to life! I turned down the pages in a couple of places for you to enjoy:

He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others. As a passer-by he was in a place where everything, not only the land, was open. People would feel free to talk and he was free to listen. To carry a little of them as he went. He had neglected so many things, that he owed this small piece of generosity to Queenie and the past. (p107)

[Harold’s story was featured in a local newspaper – on a slack news day] It was then reported in one or two of the nationals, and suddenly no one could get enough. Harold’s walk became the theme of Thought for the Day on Radio 4, and spawned leading articles about the nature of modern pilgrimage, quintessential England, and the pluck of the Saga generation. People talked about it in shops, playgrounds, parks, pubs, parties and offices. The story had caught the imagination… (p236 – this reminded me of Sheridan and DJ’s Lindisfarne pilgrimage).

[So many people have died] They were part of the air he walked through, just as all the travellers he met were part of it. He saw that people would make the decisions they wished to make, and some would hurt both themselves and those who loved them, and some would pass unnoticed, while others would bring joy. (p354)

And yes, I was continuously thinking of Forrest Gump as I read this!