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Rachel Joyce Books In Order

Publication Order of Harold Fry Books

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Perfect (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Music Shop (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

A Faraway Smell of Lemon (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Rachel Joyce is a British novelist who has gained critical acclaim with her “Harold Fry” series of novels. Her debut novel was “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” that was first published in 2012. Prior to becoming a published author, Joyce worked in the British acting industry, where she was an actor for twenty years working for several internationally acclaimed companies including the Royal National Theater and the RSC. Her debut novel “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” achieved much commercial success upon publication in 2012. It went on to become an international and Sunday times bestselling novel and made the shortlist for the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Man Booker Prize long list. In 2012, Rachel Joyce won the New Writer of the Tear Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. Besides her first title, she has also written a collection of short stories and several more novels that have been just as well-received. Outside of novel writing, she worked with the BBC Radio 4 where she wrote more than 20 original radio dramas and radio plays. In fact, her debut novel was derived from a radio play, which she later decided to expand into a full-length book. Some of her novels have been made into radio dramas and plays. She lives in Cotswolds and is married to Paul Venables a British actor, with whom she has four children.

Rachel Joyce has always loved writing stories ever since she was a child and had written her biography by the time she turned eight. She was an extremely shy, anxious, and troubled child that found it difficult to deal with issues in life. Given her reticent nature, she did not like school and would invent all manner of illnesses so that she would not have to go. Staying at home in bed gave her the opportunity to read all manner of her books from her favorite writers such as Rosemary Weir’s “Pyewacket and Heidi”, that made her feel all safe and comfortable. She would study English at Bristol and enroll for a RADA course, which ultimately led to a career in the RSC. She spent 16 years acting and when she started to tire of it got into professional writing. During this time she had gotten married and acting was taking too much of a toll, making a professional writing career the most viable option. She enrolled for a creative writing course at Faber, and got quickly off the blocks given her experience in writing plays. Having quit her acting job, she used the knowledge she acquired in school to write while taking care of her growing children. It would take quite a while before she felt that she was ready to find an agent and proceed to publish her first novel. After several rejections from some small publishers, she met her agent Clare Conville, who advised her through several rewrites until she published her debut in 2012.

Since the publication of “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry”, Joyce has made her name as an author that writes and celebrates the courage and dignity of the human spirit and the resilience of ordinary people. The novels of the Harold Fry series with their unassuming heroes who go on incredible journeys of self and communal discovery make for intriguing tales. Harold Fry travels across England when he receives a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend of his who is saying her goodbyes. He sets off on a pilgrimage with no plans or warning as he intends to post a letter to his friend but just keeps on bypassing the post offices on the road. It is a pilgrimage done in the old-fashioned way, as he walks from the South of England all the way to its north talking and meeting people on the road. Joyce parallels this in the second novel in the series as Queenie gets the message that her friend is on her way to see her. Desiring to travel on a journey just like him, she takes a decision to confront the past and writes a letter of the journey she has made up to that point. With significant emotional force, she tells her story of modest beginnings, her college life at Oxford, heartbreak, her love for Harold, and finally the secret she kept from him for years.

“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” is a narrative full of profound insights, humor, and charm, which follows the journey of Harold Fry across England. Harold is a recently retired Englishman who has to bear the nagging of his wife. He is living the mundane life in a small village when he gets a letter from a woman he has not heard from in two decades. Queenie Hennessy, an old friend has written to say she is in a hospice and that they may never see each other again. Penning a quick reply, he heads for the village post box, but in a chance encounter, he changes his mind and thinks that maybe he should post it at the next post box down the road. Thus begins one of the unlikeliest of pilgrimages as he never does post his letter but decides to walk the 600 odd miles to Kingsbridge and deliver the letter in person. He believes that as long as Queenie has not received his letter, she will not die. Since he never had the time to prepare himself, he sets across the county in only a light coat and yachting shoes. Along the way, he meets some of the most intriguing of characters that unlock his dormant sense of promise and spirit. His memories take him back to his joy in becoming a father, his wedding day, and his first dance with his wife. As her husband reconciles himself to the regrets and losses, Maureen for the first time starts missing her husband, even as he heads towards the one person he had ever truly loved – Queenie Hennessy.

“The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” is a charming reply to the first novel of the Harold Fry series. When Queenie Hennessy learns that Harold Fry is making a pilgrimage across England to come see her, she is shocked. He says that she is to wait until he arrives which leaves her bewildered, since she had written to say she was dying. One of the volunteers she had been speaking to at the hospice tells her that maybe she needs to write to Harold and confess everything. She writes a letter confessing her deepest secrets that she had kept hidden for well over two decades, hoping that she could find forgiveness. In a way, Queenie is also on a journey as she travels from the past to reconcile herself to who she has been all these years. What she thought would be a goodbye has now turned into a beginning.

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