TCL’s #NovNov22 #2 – Last Leg of the Journey.

Book Review for “Maureen Fry & the Angel of the North” by Rachel Joyce.

Summary: Ten years ago, Harold Fry set off on his epic journey on foot to save a friend. But the story doesn’t end there. Now his wife, Maureen, has her own pilgrimage to make. Maureen Fry has settled into the quiet life she now shares with her husband Harold after his iconic walk across England. Now, ten years later, an unexpected message from the North disturbs her equilibrium again, and this time it is Maureen’s turn to make her own journey. But Maureen is not like Harold. She struggles to bond with strangers, and the landscape she crosses has changed radically. She has little sense of what she’ll find at the end of the road. All she knows is that she must get there..”

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Contemporary; United Kingdom; Other Categories: Novella, Series (Harold Fry #3).

Maureen HardcoverYes, dear friends, it is I, Davida, the Rachel Joyce Addict! Now, as a Rachel Joyce Addict, you know I wasn’t going to wait for the US version to come out, and I pre-ordered the UK hardcover. Then, about two days after I was informed that my copy was winging its way to me, I received the NetGalley widget from the US publisher! When they asked me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing this book, I practically fell out of my chair with surprise – I believe the British would say I was “gobsmacked” with delight.

You should know that with this novella, Joyce makes Harold Fry’s story into a trilogy. We already had Queenie’s story, and so the only person left in this triangle is Harold’s wife, Maureen. Now normally I might have had some mixed feelings about this. You see, I fell in love with Joyce with the first Harold Fry novel and I’m always worried when a beloved novel gets a sequel, as it might not live up to the first one(s). But why I’d be afraid of this for anything by Rachel Joyce is beyond me, because… yeah. She did it again.

You see, Joyce has this amazing way of writing that combines just the right amount of poetry, to enhance the narrative and evoke emotions that can light up your mind’s eye. For example: “Maureen drove below snatches of sky where sunlight glinted on the road, steel blue, spun gold, as rich as the glances off a crow’s wing.” You just can’t tell me when you read this that you can’t picture exactly what Maureen is seeing, because I certainly can. What’s more, it is deceptively simple sounding prose that has layers of depth that are at the same time, so easily understood.

Furthermore, if you’ve read the other two books, you’ll know that the relationship between Maureen, Harold, and Queenie is a complicated one, but it isn’t one of deception or secrets, at least not since Harold made his unlikely pilgrimage to see Queenie once more before she died. However, we also learn that Maureen hasn’t yet come to terms with her own emotions and memories, and that’s what this book is about.

By the way, the title of this book for the UK audience is as I’ve noted here, but Americans will be getting a book entitled simply “Maureen” which I think is a bit of a missed opportunity for them. On the one hand, everyone in England knows that there’s a statue called “The Angel of the North” located in a place called Gateshead. However, this statue and its name is also a bit of a metaphor in this novella. While the sculpture reminds people of how coal miners worked underground for over 200 years in that region, it also is a beacon for the future where we finally can be above ground. Maureen’s journey is also a way for her to come out from beneath herself and her memories, to finally come into the sunlight. But more than that, Maureen also meets her own type of angel in the guise of Kate – one of the people who walked with Harold and befriended him during his trek, who he stayed in contact with over the ensuing ten years.

Look, I could go on and on about this novella, but then this review would be longer than the book. Instead, I’ll tell you that yes, Joyce made me laugh and cry with this story, yet again. This short work also proves that you don’t need hundreds upon hundreds of pages to make an impact. In fact, if you can write as lyrically and evocatively as Rachel Joyce, you can move your readers with just the turn of a phrase. Therefore, there is NO reason why I could rate this any lower than a full five out of five stars, and recommend this novella with my whole heart!

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372e2-netgalleytiny“Maureen Fry & the Angel of the North” by Rachel Joyce was released by Doubleday in the UK on October 20, 2022 but will only be released elsewhere (entitled simply “Maureen”) on February 7, 2023. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Blackwell‘s, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website eBooks.com, Booksamillion.com, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from Bookshop.org and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. Although I bought the hardcover UK edition of this novella, I was also approved for the ARC by the US publisher Random House, Dial Press via NetGalley.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Release Challenge (#53); Novellas in November 2022 (#2).

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9 thoughts on “TCL’s #NovNov22 #2 – Last Leg of the Journey.

  1. I plan to try this one–I could not get into Queenie’s story though. And, as for titles over here–I’m not sure who decides or why different titles are needed. It’s sort of like going though and replacing the UK word “biscuit” for “cookie”–kind of silly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess the marketing people think that a certain title might not work in a different country. Like when they changed the Harry Potter book Philosopher’s Stone from the UK to Sorcerer’s Stone for the US because they thought American kids wouldn’t be interested in a philosopher but they’d want to read about a sorcerer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you haven’t had to wait too long to read this book! I enjoyed it too, although I still haven’t read Queenie’s story. I agree that the UK title is better because of the double meaning of ‘angel’.

    Liked by 1 person

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