The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce.
I absolutely adored ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ so when I saw that the author had written a book from the perspective of the woman set out to walk to, I couldn’t resist.
For those who have read ‘Harold Fry’ you will know that Queenie is terminally ill with cancer and is living out her days in a hospice in Berwick-Upon-Tweed. Queenie tends to keep to herself but when news spreads about Harold, the mood changes in the hospice as everyone rallies around Queenie to encourage her to keep her strength up. The hospice is run by nuns, and with Queenies ability to talk being quite limited due to her illness, one of them suggests that she writes a letter for Harold.
Through the writing we learn about how Queenie came to work in the Brewery with Harold all those years ago and hear in painstaking detail how she fell in love with him but was always happy knowing that nothing could ever come of it. As the book develops the author offers an insight into Queenie’s fellow friends at the hospice, and in this moment’s humanity, friendship, love and compassion are offered up in very beautiful and heart breaking ways.
Towards the end of the novel Queenie has to write down one of her biggest secrets involving Harold’s tragic son David. On pain meds and feeling increasingly anxious as Harold’s arrival is fast approaching, this makes for a perfect end to a beautiful story. An incredibly warm novel, which offers an insight into an otherwise unknown character.
Star Rating out of 5: 4
‘Sometimes you can love something not because you instinctively connect with it but because another person does, and keeping their things in your heart takes you back to them.’