Book Review: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce


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What is it about?

“That’s it, then,” said Finty. “It’s a unanermous yes vote. From now on, no one dies. We’re all waiting for Harold Fry.”

Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and writes a letter to an old friend to notify him that she is dying from cancer. She hasn’t seen or heard from him in 20 years. She received a postcard from him telling her to wait for him. While she waits, she begins writing him the letter that will explain the truth of why she left.

Is it good?

Yes! Queenie’s letter is sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes funny and happy. The patients at the hospice are a wonderful cast of characters, and the memories from Queenie ‘s past are so engaging. I found myself on the brink of tears at least twice.

You do not have to have read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, but that is also a wonderful book. They are set on the same time line and involve some of the same characters, but you can read each book individually.

Some memorable quotes:

Perhaps I took my mother more literally than she intended, but I applied her rule to my life; after all, we are all searching for them, the rules. We pick them up from the strangest places, and if they appear to work once we can live a whole lifetime by them, regardless of the unhappiness and difficulty they may later bring.

This can happen unintentionally, at first you might think ‘If it isn’t broken, why fix it?’ And then it’s, ‘it worked before, it should work again.’ Or maybe it’s only a simple superstition, but you get trapped doing the same thing over and over.

If only memory were a library with everything stored where it should be. If only you could walk to the desk and say to the assistant, I’d like to return the painful memories about David Fry or indeed his mother and take out some happier ones, please.

Yes, please! That would be so wonderful!

It did not change for my landlady or your neighbors or people I passed in the street. If it altered for them, the shift was brief, it was a hiccup, it was a missing of a step, the way the sudden removal of a person is a reminder of one’s own fragility before we resume the familiar, ordinary things that make us feel untouchable again. But from where I was looking, a seismic shift occurred. And like most seismic shifts, it cut everything open and pulled it apart.

I have felt both sides of this on separate occasions, and this is such an accurate description of how tragedy affects us.

Next up: A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

Happy Reading!

World Book Day

In honor of world book day, I thought I would share with you my most recent favorite books.

Ancillary Sword (Imperial Ranch #2) by Ann Leckie

Ancillary SwordJust like book 1 of this series, this book had me hooked for its entire length. I don’t want to spoil anything but I just love the main character’s background. I feel that her history strongly influences all of her decisions but she can still learn from new experiences.

If you haven’t read Ancillary Justice, then you should start there. It follows a soldier named Breq on a quest of revenge. She used to be a the AI inside of a starship but is now trapped in one human body.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fr by Rachel Joyce

This is a charming story of a man who receives a letter from an estranged friend with cancer. He endeavors to write a reply but immediately feels that this is not a satisfactory
response to someone who meant so much to him long ago. He ends Harold Fryup walking from mail box to mail box and finally deciding to walk all the way to the nursing home in which his friend waits.

He meets hilarious characters a long the way and has plenty of time to reflect on his own unique history.

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson

Butterfly GardenAn undeniably creepy story. Told in the style of police interview and flashbacks, the victim of a kidnapping reveals details of her containment along with numerous other girls. The man who captures them is obsessed with butterflies and does his best to turn these girls into them.

I could not put this book down, the writing style just flows and the details keep you wanting more, even though it is a thoroughly creepy book.

There are so many more books I’d like to share with you, but there will be time for that later! I hope you find lots of time to read today!