‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ is one of my favourite books and so I’ve been meaning to read ‘The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennesey’ for a long time. It wasn’t as good as the story of Harold Fry but it gave me a whole new different take on the original story. It also gave some of the other characters a voice and gives an insight into the tragedy of what happened with David.
I found Queenie a very flawed and complex character to come to terms with. She was very needy and she couldn’t see the consequences of her actions and that kind of bothered me. She was so infatuated with Harold to the point when she couldn’t let him go when she needed to most. She also rejected a perfectly good marriage proposal from someone she dated and she rejected him. A lot of her actions didn’t make sense and I don’t she think she was as compassionate or as thoughtful as she thinks she was. To be honest, I don’t think she redeemed herself. I just couldn’t find empathy for her at the end.
The form of the book worked very effectively as a letter in the first person because you had no idea what was real and what wasn’t. Queenie was the perfect unreliable narrator with her morphine-addled visions drifting in and out of the letters. I also loved the visual imagery of the sea garden and because I’ve been to that coast as few times, I can picture it well. The best parts in the story were the scenes in the hospice with all the other patients. They really brought the story to life and I preferred reading the scenes with Finty and Mr Henderson and The Pearly King to the flashbacks because we all know what the ending holds.
Altogether. I’d say this is a must read if you loved ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ as much as me. It gives so much more to the story and despite the fact I don’t think Queenie would ever be able to redeem herself, it’s a fascinating study both in love, infatuation and grief. I’ll always take Harold’s side though and I’m glad he didn’t end up with Queenie. It just wouldn’t have been right.