gmhTODAY 13 gmhToday March April 2017 - Page 90

BOOK CLUB BEAT with Sherry Hemingway O ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ Author Rachel Joyce ne day retiree Harold Fry leaves his house in southern England, with a “cheerio” to his wife, and the intention of mailing a letter. But he, like Forrest Gump, just keeps going. This charming book is about an odys- sey that restores the life of a repressed man living a tedious existence. It has been a worldwide bestseller since it was writ- ten in 2012. British author Rachel Joyce has won numerous book awards including being longlisted on the prestigious Man Booker Prize. The book currently rates 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 3,600 cus- tomer reviews. The story begins one morning when Harold’s only chore is to mow the lawn —and he had done that the day before. A life-changing letter arrives from a former colleague whom he has not heard from in 20 years. Her news is that she has cancer and is writing to say goodbye. Harold, shaken, writes a limp two-sentence response and leaves the house telling his wife, “I’ll nip to the postbox.” Thus begins the odyssey of Harold Fry. Within five miles, Harold knows what he has to do. He has to walk 500 miles to visit Queenie Hennessey in St. Bernadine’s Hospice in northern England. He genu- inely believes he can save her by walking to her. It is no matter to Harold that he left home wearing his yachting shoes, and without a map or his cell phone. He pushes on. This book starts ploddingly slow, just like Harold, and picks up speed as color returns to Harold’s life. Each encounter is a gem, altering him in some way. Among his many teachers are hotel guests, a bar- man, other hikers, cycling mothers and a dog. All these lessons begin to heal the pain and heartbreak of a past that unfolds as he walks. This is a warm, witty book about the power of positive intentions, and it will sweep you into the world of Harold and all the people who come near him. The serendipity of this book is that the author has written a companion book, “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey,” which tells the other side of the story. Harold Fry can be read alone, but a number of book clubs are finding enjoyment in reading both. I strongly advise you to read the books in order, with ‘Harold’ first and ‘Queenie’ following. They make for a doubly good read. AAUW-Morgan Hill Book Club: Four dozen women, nearly four decades The AAUW-Morgan Hill book club attracts so many readers that it offers two book discussions each month. Everyone chooses which books to read based on their interests and their availability for each book discussion. Overall, the AAUW (American Association of University Women) is a national service and advocacy organization promoting equity and education for women and girls. The local book group was founded in the 1980’s and now has approximately 35 active members, with another 16 members who drop-in occasionally or just follow the reading picks. Favorite Authors Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood The Handmaid’s Tale, Blind Assassin, Alias Grace, Cat’s Eye, Oryx and Crake, Robber Bride. Australian American journalist and novelist Geraldine Brooks People of the Book, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, March. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and the Golden Age of Journalism, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. AAUW-Morgan Hill Book Club (descending, from top of stairs): Jean Pinard, Pat Toombs, Betsy Ding, Sandy Stoob, Lesley Miles, Elizabeth Mandel, Maggie Leininger, Janet McElroy, Jill Paveza, Karen McDonald; (Bottom, l. to r.): Margaret McCann, Linda Tarvin, Joanne Rife, Carol   Holzgrafe, Cinda Meister, Jenny Redfern, Mary Cox, Carrie Lim, Donna Dicker, Susan Rife, Jan Guglielmo, Peggy Martin, Carol O’Hare, Julie Buchanan-Plaisance, Tammy Parker. Missing: Joanne Rooney, Coleen Colwell, Nancy Fraser, Anne Rosenzweig, Jane Devine, Kathy Goelkel, John Jenkins, Joy Safakish, Katie Scanlon, Maria Schalk, Kathleen Sullivan and Nancy Altman-Palm. 90 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2017