Skip to main content

Maureen: A Harold Fry Novel


Maureen: A Harold Fry Novel

We first met Harold Fry 11 years ago, in Rachel Joyce’s THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, when he set off to mail a letter to his dying friend, Queenie Hennessy. That letter never reached the post box. So he ended up hand-carrying it all the way from his home in the south of England over 600 miles north to the hospice caring for Queenie.

Harold’s wife, Maureen, didn’t quite know what to make of this, but then she often didn’t understand things that fell anywhere outside the norm. She only knew it bothered her. She loved her husband and feared that Queenie wanted to take him from her. Which was absurd, really, since a dying Queenie lay in a hospice bed. Maureen and Harold had been growing apart recently, so maybe that played into it. Harold’s pilgrimage garnered national attention, taking three months and innumerable detours along the way. That, too, bothered Maureen. Of course, being who he is, Harold made many friends as he walked, some of whom he remains in touch with to this day. But when he finished his pilgrimage, he came home to Maureen, and they settled into a comfortable routine.

"With MAUREEN to round out Joyce’s trilogy, these special books will bring to their readers a rush of comfort and peace when the circle is complete."

Queenie’s friendship with Harold was something truly special, which she described in THE LOVE SONG OF MISS QUEENIE HENNESSY. She told her remarkable story, wrapping it around Harold’s. But Queenie ultimately died, leaving behind questions, at least for Maureen. And now Harold and Maureen have learned that she built a tribute garden to their son David, who died by his own hand decades ago. Maureen wants to know why she would build a garden. What did Queenie know about David?

This news comes like a stab to the heart all over again. Maureen absolutely cherished her son, and his death left an empty hole inside of her. To put it bluntly, she has never recovered. How dare this woman build a tribute to him! Harold gently encourages his wife to visit Queenie’s garden and see for herself. Maybe then she will understand. Maureen reluctantly agrees. Harold is right. It’s a long drive, but she knows she will not rest until she makes the journey.

So, early one morning, Maureen fixes some sandwiches and coffee, gets into her car, and drives off before she can talk herself out of it. The roads are jammed with traffic, plagued by detours and besieged by poor weather, so it takes far longer than she had planned. When she calls Harold, ready to turn back, he suggests that she stay the night with Kate, a woman he met on his pilgrimage. Kate would be delighted to meet Maureen, and he’s certain they would like each other. However, he left out a few details about her that catch Maureen by surprise. But she does achieve her goal, reaching Queenie’s garden.

Amazingly, the place seems to attract many visitors. It also doesn’t make any sense to Maureen. She came to see David, but he's not there. What was she thinking? The whole thing is nonsense, and it angers her. For a trip that should have helped her find satisfaction, it has turned into a terrible disappointment. Then, as if it wasn't bad enough already, something worse happens. Of course, somehow, good ends up coming out of bad. And Maureen might find enlightenment after all.

THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY and THE LOVE SONG OF MISS QUEENIE HENNESSY are two novels unlike anything ever written. Poignant, funny, sad, touching and absurd, they also are stunningly beautiful, heartbreaking and heart-clutching. With MAUREEN to round out Joyce’s trilogy, these special books will bring to their readers a rush of comfort and peace when the circle is complete.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on February 17, 2023

Maureen: A Harold Fry Novel
by Rachel Joyce

  • Publication Date: February 7, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback
  • ISBN-10: 0593446429
  • ISBN-13: 9780593446423