BOOK AND BOOZE TIPPLE: Harold Fry likes tea, but we all deserve a good British fizzy drop -try Gilbey's own Pheasant Ridge Brut; or, sod it- hold onto your hard earned cash and hunt down some Blue Nun for a drop of nostalgia. For Teatarians, a brew of Tetley will work just fine.
I would officially like to declare The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry a book club success, by sheer virtue of the fact that:
1) Time was spent actually discussing this book.
2) At least three of the book club members had finished reading it.
3) Most of us finished the evening with a sobering tea (thank you Harold) in a desire to reclaim Book Club cred, rather than sucking the life out of another innocent bottle of Prosecco.
A bit of context to qualify this with.....
Of course, a Book Club success is also dependent on what your group hopes to achieve; I think our group (clue is in the name) has become all about; hijacking the mens' poker night concept, reinvigorating some of the cerebral matter that seemed to go into hibernation upon the birth of our children and/or discovering our first chin hair, building friendships that go beyond play-date discussion of which kid slept through the night, and for some of us, getting one guaranteed-non-wardrobe-stress-night out every month. Our objectives are simple, yet important.
Our members are neighbours, thus geographically located within walking distance....and we, due to terrace house limited capacity size issues, have ironically become a little exclusive based not on snobbery but on the simple fact that there's just no space around our tables for any more members...think we are up to nine now which is somewhat bursting at the seams and on the rowdy side with multiple sub-chat groups emerging ! To sum us up, you might say we are a mixed bunch of lapsed and/or aspirational literates with varying degree's of reading stamina, booze consumption skills and mid-life crisis' AND we all do seem to love a good public airing of our past and present life experiences.
With that in mind, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a cracking good story that cuts to the core of Middle England's 'net curtained life' ( well, this is Windsor-- less 'net' more plantation shutters) and unpacks our assumptions about what goes on behind closed doors - metaphorical and physical. It invites all manner of reflection about... well, to name a few we discussed.....hope, regret, love, mental illness, opportunity, assumption and choices.
Harold Fry, plus a brilliant line up of characters including my favourite - the gorgeous 'wish he was my Grandad' neighbour, alongside a healthy dose of truth inducing vino - got everyone talking. Now, that amounts to a lot of opinion to digest and reflect upon, over the course of 3-4 hours.
This novel is so deceptively easy to read and entertaining, that it simply deserves Book Club treatment to give voice to the themes and ideas it traverses. And the bonus -- it's a quick read for any book clubers who are time/sleep deprived......I believe our 'number one book snoozer' got beyond a page a night before falling asleep!
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is unassuming book club gold -- a defo for generating intimate conversation and making life feel a little less lonely. I'm just so pleased we got it together this month and did the novel justice