book review

Book Review: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy - by Rachel Joyce

9:34 PM

Summary from goodreadsWhen 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.

Rating: 3.8/5
*The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the first installment of the Harold Fry series.*

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy are both novels that require a bit more motivation to read than a dramatic or action filled novel. If you are a reader who is more inclined to fast paced novels, then chances are you won't be a very big fan of this series.

With that being said, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is written with so much expertise and intricacy that any reader who is interested will find themselves in awe once they pick up on the smaller details. It may take some time for the reader to adjust their mentality to that of one which focuses not so much on the plot but on the writing, but it is well worth the read once they are in that state of mind. This novel has an abundance of diverse characters, a great deal of parallelism, consistency while shifting between one place and time to another, and a unique writing style.

First and foremost, the characterization in this novel has to be commended. There are so many side characters that one would assume that they were all just supporting characters thrown in the story to keep it moving. But that is not the case. As one reads, it is near impossible for the complexity of each and every single one of the side characters to go unnoticed. They are given so much attention and care that a reader could almost yearn for books dedicated to their backstories. There were characters that were clearly and obviously round while others were more subtly written and there were characters who went through an admirable amount of development while others developments had to be deciphered. In addition, they were all so different. There were not two characters from the two installments combined that had similar personalities. 

Moving on to a more particular writing trait: parallelism. As to not give too much away, the parts of the story that could have been perceived as parallel will not be mentioned, but it could be expected that there is almost more parallelism than you know what to do with between Harold and his wife as a single story line and Queenie's storyline. While on the topic of specific writing traits, one could also expect imagery (a lot of it, but not as much as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry).

An interesting feature about this novel is that it is constantly shifting between Queenie's modern day perspective and her backstory. Normally, a reader would find themselves confused and it would be hard to keep track, but the first line of each transition every time the story shifts is usually enough for the reader to understand. At the same time, the storyline was consistent yet progressive. The reader has to keep in mind that the main character is dying, so her deteriorating condition is portrayed through her writing (since it is written in first person) while still keeping a consistent voice throughout.

In both the first and second novels in this series there was a clear goal. This is very refreshing because the characters don't get sidetracked and neither do the readers. In the first novel, Harold Fry's goal was to walk to Queenie, and in the second novel, Queenie's goal was to write a letter to Harold. In a way, this builds suspense and makes anything and everything that happens so much more impactful than it would have been if there were a fast paced plot. The writing style as a whole was very smooth and had a strong voice that fit well with the main character. There were varying sentence structures and adjectives galore. If any of this sounds like your cup of tea, then you should definitely give this novel a read.

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  1. I love the idea, but think I might get bored by the actual story.

    1. It's more of an emotional story than an exciting one, so it'll definitely have that effect on a lot of people.