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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (2014)

by Rachel Joyce

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Book Description:
A runaway international bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry followed its unassuming hero on an incredible journey as he traveled the length of England on foot—a journey spurred by a simple letter from his old friend Queenie Hennessy, writing from a hospice to say goodbye. Harold believed that as long as he kept walking, Queenie would live. What he didn’t know was that his decision to walk had caused her both alarm and fear. How could she wait? What would she say? Forced to confront the past, Queenie realizes she must write again.

In this poignant parallel story to Harold’s saga, acclaimed author Rachel Joyce brings Queenie Hennessy’s voice into sharp focus. Setting pen to paper, Queenie makes a journey of her own, a journey that is even bigger than Harold’s; one word after another, she promises to confess long-buried truths—about her modest childhood, her studies at Oxford, the heartbreak that brought her to Kingsbridge and to loving Harold, her friendship with his son, the solace she has found in a garden by the sea. And, finally, the devastating secret she has kept from Harold for all these years.

A wise, tender, layered novel that gathers tremendous emotional force, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy underscores the resilience of the human spirit, beautifully illuminating the small yet pivotal moments that can change a person’s life.

My Review:
Queenie's story is told by flashing back and forth between past and present. It's a great companion book to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry book. I suggest reading the Harold Fry book first though as Queenie's story will then make more sense. I found Queenie's love song to be very moving, tender and humorous in parts. It's about finding joy in sad circumstances and living life to the fullest. It's beautifully written and will be sure to touch your soul. I would highly recommend this book to those who loved reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. ( )
  EadieB | Dec 8, 2017 |
This is the heart warming sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and in it the author focuses on the character, Queenie. Queenie is at the end of her life in a nursing home. When she finds out her former co-worker, Harold Fry is taking a pilgrimage to see her, she reminisces and writes about their friendship and her awkward relationship with his son, David. Harold's trip has also charmed the other nursing home residents and changed life for them too as they look forward to his visit.
I read Joyce's first book in the series, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and enjoyed it but you can read either book on its own and in any order, IMO. ( )
  JulieLill | Nov 25, 2017 |
If you liked The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry then this is a must read. I enjoyed Harold Fry but felt it a bit dismal. This book is the perspective from Queenie Hennessy and it made the first book so much better. I believe I enjoyed Queenie's story much more than Harold's but both are entertaining. Death is not an easy topic but this gives the reader a bit of a different look at it. ( )
  bostonterrio | Nov 21, 2017 |
Read for book club.

I found this a far less rich novel than the first one, focussed mainly on Queenie, a character I never really believed in. While she told us about her Oxford life, her being a muse, her boyfriends, her dancing, and her miscarriage, this personality never managed to override the (dull, reserved, inhibited) picture I had of her from the story from Harold's perspective.

The scenes at the hospice featuring the other patients were played for laughs more than I was comfortable with, although I did enjoy the geographically challenged Sister Lucy. I was not interested in the descriptions of Queenie's sea garden. The story only came alive for me in the scenes featuring David and Maureen.

SPOILERS

The ending bothers me more the more I think about it; it throws everything into doubt. I hope Harold and Maureen never learn about David's last evening - assuming it actually happened as Queenie may or may not have described... ( )
  pgchuis | Nov 12, 2017 |
Queenie Hennessy is dying. As she moves to hospice to live out the rest of her days, she decides to write a farewell letter to the man she has loved in silence for 20 years. What she doesn't expect is that her letter will spark something in him that will send him on a walking pilgrimage across England. When she discovers that he is walking to her and has asked her to wait for him, Queenie is filled with both hope and fear. She does not know how long she can last but she does know that she must confess all that she has kept secret for the last 20 years before it is too late. As we delve deeper into the past we, discover the depth of Queenie's love and pain and the complicated twists of her life. Whether you have read the companion book about Harold Fry or not, this book will leave you with a deep appreciation for the eccentricities of life and how we make our peace with it all in the end.

Bettina P. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.

( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
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Epigraph
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
- - Martin Buber, The Legend of the Baal-Shem
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.

Martin Buber, 'The legend of the Baal-Shem'
Dedication
For my sisters, Amy and Emily, and in memory of a garden in Roquecor
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Book description
When 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. [www.wordery.com]
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812996674, Hardcover)

From the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect comes an exquisite love story about Queenie Hennessy, the remarkable friend who inspired Harold Fry’s incredible journey.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"From the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect comes an exquisite love story about Queenie Hennessy, the remarkable friend who inspired Harold Fry's incredible journey"--"When Queenie Hennessy is told she has days to live she sends a letter on pink paper in which she bids goodbye to Harold Fry. It is a letter that inspires an unlikely walk, a cast of well-wishers and the examination of many lives unlived. But there is a second letter, a longer, quieter more complicated letter which she will never send. It is this letter, the one we did not know about in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which reveals the shocking and beautiful truth of Queenie's life"--… (more)

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