This book has been intriguing me for a long time and I finally received it as a birthday present. The synopsis on the back of the book is quite vague and this book's narrative was a lot more than I thought it would be.
Retired Harold receives a letter out of the blue from a old work colleague who reveals that she is dying from cancer at the opposite end of the country. He quickly writes back and walks off to the post box to send his reply, but he gets into his head that if he keeps on walking from his Devon home towards her, she will keep on living. And so begins his 80 plus day journey, encountering all sorts of people and becoming the centre of a media storm.
As Harold walks, we find out more about his complex relationship with his wife and son, the mistakes he has made throughout his life and how he is trying to atone for them with his walk.
I enjoyed reading about Harold's journey, which is so much more than just covering distance. He has lived quite an isolated existance, not quite understanding the rest of the world and has an element of innocence and misunderstanding which is most evident when he finally reaches his destination. Although it sounds like an old-fashioned style of pilgrimage, the author updates this traditional kind of tale with media interest and social networkingm, which is really effective in showing the contrast between Harold's life and the modern world. This is a warm and poignant read, which is made all the more real with locations that all readers across Britian will recognise. Recommended!