Looking for something to read over the weekend?
Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?
Check out my Friday Favorite – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.
I read a publishers ARC of a book this week called Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood, which I will be talking about closer to its March publication date. Although their plots are nothing alike, there was something about the ambience of the book that brought to mind The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce, which I loved. So here is the Friday Favorite for this week –
Sister Lucy, who is the youngest nun volunteering in the hospice, asked if anyone would like to help with her new jigsaw. Nobody answered. “Scrabble?” she said.
“How about Mousetrap?” said Sister Lucy. “That’s a lovely game.”
I was in a chair by the window. Outside, the winter evergreens flapped and shivered. One lone seagull balanced in the sky.
“Hangman?” said Sister Lucy. “Anyone?”
A patient nodded, and Sister Lucy fetched paper. By the time she’d got sorted, pens and a glass of water and so on, he was dozing again.
Life is different for me at the hospice. The colors, the smells, the way a day passes. But I close my eyes and I pretend that the heat of the radiator is the sun on my hands and the smell of lunch is salt in the air. I hear the patients cough, and it is only the wind in my garden by the sea. I can imagine all sorts of things, Harold, if I put my mind to it.
Sister Catherine strode in with the morning delivery. “Post!” she sang. Full volume. “Look what I have here!”
“Oh, oh, oh,” went everyone, sitting up.
Sister Catherine passed several brown envelopes, forwarded, to a Scotsman known as Mr. Henderson. There was a card for the new young woman. (She arrived yesterday. I don’t know her name.) There is a big man they call the Pearly King, and he had another parcel though I have been here a week and I haven’t yet seen him open one. The blind lady, Barbara, received a note from her neighbor—Sister Catherine read it out—spring is coming, it said. The loud woman called Finty opened a letter informing her that if she scratched off the foil window, she would discover that she’d won an exciting prize.
“And, Queenie, something for you.” Sister Catherine crossed the room, holding out an envelope. “Don’t look so frightened.”
I knew your writing. One glance and my pulse was flapping. Great, I thought. I don’t hear from the man in twenty years, and then he sends a letter and gives me a heart attack.
THE BLURB: 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.
MY THOUGHTS: I didn’t want this book to end……I quite fell in love with Miss Queenie Hennessey and the other residents of the hospice.
This book moved me to tears, made me laugh, made me think about me relationship with my mother, with my grandmothers, with my sons.
It made me remember how selfish we are as young adults, so uncertain in ourselves, but so certain that we know so much more than our parents.
It brought back memories, both good and painful. This delightful book is a journey in itself.
Queenie has had to move into the hospice to die – she is removed from her beloved house by the sea and her sea garden, her garden of tribute to those she has loved, her garden of memories.
Faced by her imminent death, she writes to Harold Fry, her unrequited love, and he sets out to walk the length of England to be with her. Scared that she will not live long enough to see him, she takes up the challenge when a new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything.
His unlikely pilgrimage captivates the other hospice residents, with whom Queenie – who has kept herself apart since her arrival – slowly makes friends.
I will be seeking out Rachel Joyce’s other works. An unreserved recommendation from me.
I own my copy of this book. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1206539049