A review of the book by Rachel Joyce.
This is the third book by the author. It tells a parallel story to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which was Rachel’s first book and where we first meet Miss Queenie Hennessy. In between Harold’s Story and Queenie’s, there was Perfect, which is a single tale that stands entirely on its own. You might have guessed that I enjoy this author’s work.
Queenie’s love song can be picked up and read without first having read the Unlikely Pilgrimage. I did read it first and for me it did benefit the reading of Queenie’s story.
When we meet Queenie, it is in the same place from which she writes to Harold at the start of his tale; a hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Queenie is dying. Will she survive until Harold gets to her? If you read Harold Fry you already know the answer. If you do not know and do not want to know before reading the book, DO NOT CLICK CONTINUE READING at the end of this post.
In her last days, Queenie, with the help of one of the nuns at the hospice, is writing a letter. She tells Harold about her life since she left the brewery, where they had worked together. It is not just her life she is telling him about though, it is also about her acquaintance with his son, David. She is telling Harold so many things she could not say to him before but now needs to put her affairs in order..
Though Queenie is in a hospice, and there are deaths throughout the story, in a strange way the book is not about death, but about life. Perhaps I should say, about living a life.
Queenie Hennessy – “I am here to die.”
Sister Mary Inconnue – “Pardon me but you are here to live until you die. There is a significant difference.”
Usually in my reviews, unless the book is specifically on christian topics, I do not include the blog post under the Christian category. This time it felt right to do so.
Rachel’s book will make you laugh and, if you’re of a sensitive disposition might make you cry a little too. One of Rachel’s writing talents is to express, and make the reader feel, emotion in simple language, without intricate and sophisticated prose favoured by some writes.
I still think Rachel’s best book was her first, Harold Fry’s story. This runs a very, very close second. Some readers might think that because so much of the story takes place in one place, the hospice, the scope would be more limited. It isn’t. Queenie might not be walking the length of England like Harold but she is on her own journey. Queenie’s odyssey is every bit as daunting, revealing and ultimately redeeming.
DO NOT CLICK
unless you want to know if Queenie survives until Harold arrives.
Q. H. – “You have walked far enough. Please, my friend: Go home.”