The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
You’ve read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, haven’t you? I hope by now we all have. Harold Fry receives a letter in the mail one day and as he walks to post a reply he decides to just keep walking to deliver his reply to Queenie Hennessey himself. Of course, he’s completely unprepared for a 600 mile walk. No money, wrong shoes, no phone, but he’s wearing his tie. Harold walks 600 miles across
long way) to see Queenie. We have Harold’s
This is Queenie’s story. And I am telling you here and now, if you’ve read Harold Fry, you only have half of the story. These should be side by side on your bookshelves. If your book club read Harold Fry, then Queenie’s story is your next choice. You will never forget it. Read it. You must.
When Queenie sends her note to Harold Fry, she is in a hospice nursing home. She is dying. So is everyone around her but for the caretakers. While Queenie waits she begins to write her explanation to Harold about why she left those many years ago. She writes about her love for him. Her admiration from afar. Her involvement from a distance in his life. She explains it all to him. We wonder if he was completely oblivious those years ago or was he admiring from afar, too? I guess we have our answer to that in seeing he was willing to walk 600 miles to see her one last time, imploring her to stay alive until he got there. In explaining her leaving she tells him about the little cottage by the sea that she landed at and fixed up. About the sea garden she planted. She tells Harold everything. And so we learn Queenie’s story as she writes this weeks long letter to Harold.
While she physically struggles with the writing she is helped along, helped to stay alive, through the postcards Harold sends telling of his progress. These postcards become the rallying cry for the other patients in the hospice care. They are the most inspiring characters I’ve met in ages (and I’m reading a lot lately.) I laughed, I smiled, I encouraged them to stay alive long enough to meet Harold at the end of his journey. Something they were all trying very hard to do.
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is one I won’t soon forget. If ever. There was nothing I didn’t like about this story.