This novel by Rachel Joyce (Transworld Publishers 2012) is a seemingly whimsical fiction about a retired man, similar in age to me, who walks down the hill from his house to post a letter.
When he reaches the post box he walks on to the next, and then keeps going. He lives in the south west of England but as the hours of walking pass he decides to keep walking to the north east corner of England and deliver his letter in person. He simply cannot stop and go back home. Along the way, as he places one deteriorating tennis shoe covered foot after the other in all weathers, he begins to see the world around him, he reflects on his life, and he attracts unwanted media attention and a gaggle of followers. Somewhere along his walk, he remits his wallet and watch and all personal effects back to his wife before continuing his walk hoping for the goodness of people to survive. Eventually he staggers into his destination, works at removing his tangled beard and taming his weathered hair.
This is an easy read but full of insights only normally attainable by the relentless pursuit of a goal via a simplified lifestyle. Harold Fry’s story contains both humour and sadness, and is remarkable for its exposure of the rich ordinariness of a person with a grand vision. I recommend you read this book.