The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
Published by Doubleday
9th October 2014
When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note had explained she was dying. How can she wait?
A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything. In confessing to secrets she has hidden for twenty years, she will find atonement for the past. As the volunteer points out, ‘Even though you’ve done your travelling, you’re starting a new journey too.’
Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was the beginning.
Told in simple, emotionally-honest prose, with a mischievous bite, this is a novel about the journey we all must take to learn who we are; it is about loving and letting go. And most of all it is about finding joy in unexpected places and at times we least expect.
Welcome to the final part of the Queenie Hennessy blog tour. I feel very privileged to be a part of it, particularly as this book is so magnificent. This book is a companion novel to Rachel Joyce's first work The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which I reviewed here. It is not a follow on, but sits alongside the first book, rather like Queenie sits alongside Harold when he drives her round the breweries when they work together. You don't need to have read one to enjoy the other, but I would urge you to do so, as both are beautiful books on their own, but together they complete the circle - you cannot imagine one without the other.
So... this is Queenie's story. You may think, if you have read Harold Fry that there is nothing new to discover, but you would be very wrong in this assumption. This is Queenie's tale, from her nursing home in Berwick-upon-Tweed, waiting for Harold to arrive, just as he has instructed. We meet the characters who reside, and work, in the home and there are some fabulous moments to be had there. We also learn more about Queenie, how she came to meet Harold in the first instance, in the stationary cupboard, and of her relationship, unbeknown to Harold, with his troubled son David.
Although we know that Queenie is dying, as are the others at the hospice, this is not an altogether sad tale, though there are moments that genuinely choke you up, but a tale of living your life right to the very end, in whichever way that you can. It truly is a wonderful and remarkable novel, and if you loved Harold Fry, I suspect you've already rushed out to buy this already. If you haven't read either, do so, immediately. I don't think you will regret it for one instance.
Miss Chapter x