Reading Challenge 2015 – ‘A Book That Made You Cry’

Book Number One – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

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It is just a normal day in Kingsbridge when Harold Fry receives a letter from a long, lost friend. He hasn’t seen or spoken to Queenie Hennessey for almost 20 years so when she writes to thank him and say goodbye, Harold feels that his letter in response just won’t be enough. So without any planning, and unbeknownst to his wife, he decides to walk to Queenie, who is terminally ill with Cancer and on the other side of the country, in the hope that it will keep her alive.

Along the way Harold has time to reflect on his childhood, one that was filled with abandonment and lacked any kind of affection, he also reflects on his own relationship with his son David and wonders why he and his wife have felt like two strangers passing one another for so many years.

During his walk Harold begins to meet many people, each with their own story to tell, some are having secret affairs, some are waiting for a loved one to return and others are hoping the day will come when they build up enough confidence to leave their small hometowns and see the world. With each person he meets Harold begins to realise that everyone looks so normal, but each of us harbours our own secrets, regrets and pain. When people hear of Harold’s unlikely pilgrimage, they open up their hearts to him, and although a fair few think that what he is doing is a little crazy, it inspires them and fills them with hope and in return encourages Harold to continue on his soul searching journey.

Back home in Knightsbridge, Harold’s wife Maureen slowly begins to realise how her life would be without her husband, and uses the time he is walking to reflect on her life, her marriage and her passions and hobbies that seem to have been ignored for a long time.

One thing Rachel Joyce perfectly captured was the disjointed way in which memories, even those particularly difficult or painful, come back when you least want them to, and how they often won’t be ignored. Her manner of writing is filled with so much warmth and description that it almost feels poetic. But the thing I perhaps loved the most about this book was how it really stops and makes you think.

The last five chapters of the book were incredibly touching and as soon as I felt that tell tale lump in my throat, I knew it was only a matter of time before I felt warm tears slide down my face. The subtle way she deals with the chapter that looks at things from Queenie’s perspective, really took my breath away. The tears fell from my eyes with no forced effort. This was a truly wonderful novel and I’d recommend this to everyone. It makes you want to make the most of life; it fills you with hope and reminds you how important it is to tell those that matter that you love them.

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Star Rating out of 5: 5

‘Nobody is so frightening once you stop and listen, Maureen.’

 

Happy reading fellow bookworms.

x

Lauren Bacall 1924 – 2014

So today we woke up to news that another Hollywood Legend had died. Lauren Bacall had a career spanning seven decades and had acted alongside some of the true greats ever to grace the Silver Screen. We’re talking the likes the of Marilyn Monroe, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck and of course, her beloved Humphrey Bogart.

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There’s always been something about that era of cinema that has appealed to me; perhaps I get it from my mum. She used to watch old movies on a Saturday afternoon, and often, I’d watch them with her. Which is where my love and respect for Bette Davis comes from, but that’s a whole other blog post.

It’s often well documented in the media and interviews that actresses have a tougher time than their male counterparts the older they get. So for Bacall to be working till the end, it certainly says a lot about the charisma and skill she had.

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She was an audacious lady, with that husky voice and that infamous look she had. But it was when she was acting opposite her beloved Bogey that you could see some true chemistry at play.

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Today, and indeed, this week has been a sad one for Hollywood and the rest of the world, with the loss of legendary comedian and actor Robin Williams, being announced only yesterday, we now say goodbye to Lauren Bacall at the age of 89.

Lauren Bacall once said ‘I think your whole life shows in your face, and you should be proud of that!’ and proud you should be Lauren. You lived one heck of a life. Now go and rest in peace, and once again be reunited with your true love, Bogey.

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Lauren Bacall 1924 – 2014.

A bit about me..

I always find things like this incredibly difficult to do. If you start spouting off facts about yourself you run the risk of sounding like you’re selling yourself on a dating website, and if you don’t reveal too much you come across as though you’re trying to be mysterious.

So what about me? Well I’m a twenty something woman who has always been passionate about books from a young age. Growing up my parents encouraged both my brother and I to embrace the written word, and every Christmas amongst the gifts of toys and teddy bears would always be two books each wrapped in delicate tissue paper. My lunch times at Primary School were spent immersing myself into the worlds of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, which is probably why I felt some kind of affinity with Matilda (minus the horrible parents and scary Miss Trunchbull) and it didn’t stop, as I got older.

Many a Sunday afternoon was spent curled up on a chair reading a book, expanding my mind and knowledge on various subjects such as history, science and, magic (does magic count?) I hope it does count, because a series of books that changed my life were JK Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ books. In my opinion, there hadn’t been anyone since Mr Dahl who had captivated children and adults alike with their worlds and characters. Aside from reading about boy wizards and giant peaches, I also read a lot of classic books by the likes of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens, books that other young children would have considered boring or dull but which I felt, shown me a glimpse of the past and the courage female authors like Austen displayed by writing strong female characters like Elizabeth Bennet.

There was a point between leaving college and going in to the real working world, where reading took a backseat in my life. I had some painful personal issues going on and was stricken with grief at the death of my beloved hero and father.

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This was the man who fed my love for literature and introduced to me to various books on various topics, he was someone I could really sit with and analyse a book, and it was always great to hear his take on the book. Needless to say I wasn’t reading much, up until a few years ago, when I was feeling nostalgic, missing my dad and thought I’d pick up the copy of Pride & Prejudice he bought me. It had been a while since I read it and I wanted to familiarise myself with the book again, it acted as a catalyst. I got back on Goodreads, asked for recommendations and this year alone I have already read nearly 32 books. Granted, I know there are people out there who will already be fast approaching 100 but this is a big deal for me, after taking a break from one of my favourite hobbies for so long, it has filled me with motivation and passion again.

This blog will be a place for me to talk about some of my favourite books, books I am currently reading, or have already read and will allow me to have an outlet where I can talk about books, books and yes you’ve guessed it, even more books. Despite the fact that e-readers such as Kindles have increased the popularity of reading, there’s still something considered quite sad about being 29 and opting to stay in on the weekend with a book and a cup of tea. It’s still considered rather odd if you’re a woman whose idea of the perfect shopping trip is spending almost an hour browsing in Waterstones or perusing charity shops for books. But that’s me….Give me books more than shoes any day.