Hear are two book recommendations from my book club with discussion points…
The First Book is The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
“A very enjoyable read”
With its biblical overtones and parables it made some of us feel that we had been on a pilgrimage too. It showed that behind every person could lie an extraordinary story that has the power to bring about huge change, and the ability to touch other peoples lives.
We felt there was a Canterbury Tales feel to the book, and some of us empathized with him as he went through the cathartic experience of loosening all the ties of a boring life and just took off.
It was a moving and poignant book, but not mawkish. We also felt that the little vignettes of the people Harold met along the way, and his interactions with them whetted the appetite for more information on these peripheral characters and what subsequently happened to them.
We wondered what triggered Harold’s decision to suddenly up and off, which was so out of character with his downtraodden and depressed persona – was it a late middle aged crisis? a retirement crisis? did he really want to see Queenie or not, as surely if he thought she didn’t have long to live she would have hopped on a train?
The author wrote it after her father ‘s death, so we thought it might have been a form of tribute to a him if he had been a quiet man. She is an avid writer of radio plays, and we thought this book would make a good film (we couldn’t think who should play the lead part!)
The second book is The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne
“Unforgettable” and “unputdownable”
The two stories of the little boy and his solicitor, who sees a parallel with his own life, made this an unforgettable read, and hard to put down, although it was agreed that it was not the sort of book to try and read in short bursts pre sleep. Some thought it was a bit “Kevin” like, and that Sebastian’s story as a foil for the Daniel story made it a little unbalanced. The manipulation of Sebastian and his Aspergers made for an uncomfortable read at times, with the effect of child abuse and damage done in a child’s early years. (Caroline we missed your input as we know how you like these psychiatric reads!)
Minnie was a great character, though it was a long wait to find out why Daniel hated her and some bits were a bit laboured.
We felt empathy for both Daniel and Minnie, and we found ourselves continually swinging back and forth between potential guilty and innocent verdicts, which made it all the more gripping.