MARCH 15, 2013
One Man's Walk through the English Countryside to Empathy and Understanding
Did you enjoy reading Cheryl Strand's wildly popular memoir "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail?"  Or did you, like me, want to enjoy it, but couldn't really get started?  Either way, if you're longing to read a story about a walking journey of redemption and transformation, I highly recommend "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" written by first time novelist, Rachel Joyce.  

After reading about this book, I was pleasantly surprised to find the popular award winner currently available for check-out (no waiting!) from our Northern California Digital Library.  I immediately checked-out the book, downloaded it onto my kindle, and my journey with Harold began.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a beautifully written story of a recently retired Englishman who sets out one afternoon to mail a letter to a dear friend from his past, and ends up walking over 600 miles across the English countryside, from his southern town of Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed.  Harold's pilgrimage changes his life and touches the lives of those he meets along the way.  

The book is filled with beautiful text, full of empathy and human compassion, as well as breathtaking sections brilliantly describing the beauty of being alone and outdoors.  I found myself constantly highlighting sections on my kindle version of the book--so many beautiful, nod-your-head-in-agreement passages.  Here are a couple I found read-again worthy:

"Life was very different when you walked through it.  Between gaps in the banks, the land rolled up and down, carved into checkered fields, and lined with ridges of hedging and trees.  He had to stop to look.  There were so many shades of green Harold was humbled.  Some were almost a deep velvety black, others so light they verged on yellow." 

"He had learned that it was the smallness of people that filled him with wonder and tenderness, and the loneliness of that too.  The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had been doing so for a long time.  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."

posted by Katie

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