Harold Fry is an ordinary man, a former brewery manager who lives in retirement in a little suburb with his wife, Maureen, on the south coast. When an unexpected letter reaches him written by Queenie Hennessy, an old colleague whom he has not thought about in years, he sets out to deliver a letter – by hand.
Harold walks in his yachting shoes. Having only intended to go as far as the post box, it comes as a surprise to find himself in Exeter – then Warwick, Darlington and all over the national media. But the act of walking becomes, for Harold, an act of faith. As he writes to Queenie: 'I am on my way. All you have to do is wait. Because I'm going to save you. I will keep walking, and you must keep living.'
Maureen Fry and The Angel of the North is a standalone novel in the world of Harold Fry. It is also the moving finale to a triptych that began with the phenomenal bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and continued with The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy - another previous Book of the Month at Goldsboro. You can easily read any titles separately, and you don't have to read the first two to read Maureen Fry.
After his iconic walk across England, Maureen Fry has settled into the quiet life she now shares with her husband, Harold. Now, ten years later, an unexpected message from the North disturbs her equilibrium again; this time, it is Maureen's turn to make her own journey.
But Maureen is not like Harold. She struggles to bond with strangers, and the landscape she crosses has changed radically. She has little sense of what she'll find at the end of the road. All she knows is that she must get there.
My journey reading the books by Rachel Joyce started with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which profoundly moved me, and it is a book I will never forget. It is the kind of book that I will always choose for the PREMIER book club. It is a book I thought would easily be a long-term collectable book, and our Goldsboro Book exclusive slipcase edition sold out before publication; it is now much sought after, selling for over £150 if you can find one. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012, and it will soon be a major movie release - April 2023 - starring Jim Broadbent as Harold and Penelope Wilton as Maureen.
Rachel Joyce is an exquisite writer; I am always eager to read whatever she releases. Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North is a profoundly moving and powerful novel, full of warmth and kindness, about love, loss, and how we come to terms with the past to understand ourselves and our lives a little better. I had no hesitation in deciding that this book had to be a PREMIER choice for several reasons. It will complete the sets of exclusive slipcase editions for our long-term members who have previous books; It deserves to be highlighted and chosen because it is a charming novel and destined to be a classic.
David H Headley