Joyce’s debut as a novelist tells the story of Harold Fry, a pensioner who, leaving the house one morning in order to post a letter to an old friend, ends up travelling all across England from Kingsbridge in the Southwest to Berwick in the Northeast. This is a book about an old man beginning to come to terms with his life, with mistakes made in the past and the ruins of a marriage that had been dead and loveless for a long time:
… for years they had been in a place where language had no significance.
There was no bridging the gap that lies between two human beings.
However, all this is slowly changing, for Harold’s pilgrimage leads to an awakening, as he becomes more fully aware of the world around him and develops a deep sense of compassion for the people he meets:
It was hard to understand a little and then walk away.
This is a gentle book with deep, yet unobtrusively expressed spiritual truths.
There were times, he saw, when not knowing was the biggest truth, and you had to stay with that.
Not knowing, or better yet, not understanding, indeed so often is the biggest truth and one that we need to learn to stay with, difficult though that can be.