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Posts Tagged ‘journey’

One morning, mild-mannered Harold Fry receives a letter from a former colleague named Queenie, who he has not seen for some 20 years.  The letters informs him that she is in a hospice, and is dying of terminal cancer.  Harold writes a letter back, and sets out to post it, but when he gets to the postbox, he decides to keep walking on to the next one.  And then he decides to walk a bit further, and his short walk eventually turns into a journey on foot from his home in Devon, to where Queenie is, in Berwick-upon-Tweed.  Though the going gets tough, Harold knows that somehow or other he has to walk to Queenie, and that as long as he keeps walking, she will keep living.

I had heard so many good things about this book, and was really looking forward to reading it.  The story is lovely, although a little far-fetched occasionally.  Harold meets many other people en route to save Queenie, and he realises that like him, everyone has regrets and worries in their lives, and that sometimes what we see on the surface tells us nothing about a person.

For Harold, the journey is metaphorical as much- as it is physical.  He believes that his walk can save Queenie, but he also seems to be seeking redemption for himself. As his walk unfolds in the pages, so does his history, and we learn all about the tragedies he has faced, the situations which he wishes he could change, his regrets about his relationship with his son, and the cause of a rift between himself and his wife Maureen.

At times the book is achingly sad, and at other times oddly uplifting.  I liked it a lot, but I was not as taken with it as I expected to be. (I had read reviews from people saying that the story had caused them to re-evaluate their lives, and it had made them cry.)  Having read so many positive things about the book, I would say that this puts me in the minority as it did not move me to tears, and while I would certainly recommend it, I would not say it particularly moved me.

It’s still an enjoyable story though, and I will be looking out for more by Rachel Joyce.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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This review relates to the 1970 film starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis.  It was remade in the 90s with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the remake to compare the two.

Lemmon and Dennis play George and Gwen Kellerman, a couple from Ohio who hope to move to New York City when his firm offer him an interview for a promotion.  However, their troubles start when their plane’s landing it delayed for hours and then eventually redirected to Boston.  With only one night to get from Boston to NYC for his interview the following morning, George and Gwen embark on a tumultuous journey – and when they reach New York, things don’t improve, with problems of all kinds (mugging, lost luggage, no hotel room are just some of the things they encounter) mounting up…

Jack Lemmon is one of those actors who it’s almost impossible to dislike, and he plays a terrific part here.  As the slightly neurotic Kellerman, determinedly writing down the names of everyone who he feels has wrong him in order that he can sue them, he shines.  In the hands of a different actor, George could have been an annoying character, and while he can be frustrating, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him.  Sandy Dennis was the perfect foil as his loving but long suffering wife, providing many comic moments of her own.

From the moment that the plane is delayed (causing George to start obsessing over whether the couple will make their evening booking at the Four Season restaurant) it’s clear that the viewer is in for a lot of fun.  It’s basically one long series of mishaps and misfortunes, but the two leads make it very funny and well worth watching for a bit of light hearted entertainment.  Despite being over 40 years old, and therefore inevitably looking slightly dated, the film still feels fresh and doesn’t seem to have lost any of its humour.

If you liked Planes Trains and Automobiles, or are a fan of Jack Lemmon, I’d recommend giving this one a try!

Year of release: 1970

Director: Arthur Hiller

Writer: Neil Simon

Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Sandy Dennis

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