Tuesday, February 7, 2023


Maureen by Rachel Joyce
2/7/23; 192 pages
Random House
Harold Fry #3

Maureen by Rachel Joyce is a very highly recommended character study of Maureen, the wife of Harold Fry, and represents the third and final book in the series that began with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry followed by The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. Joyce never set out to write a trilogy but Maureen is an excellent addition to the previous two novels and a wonderfully moving novel that stands on its own.

Harold is now seventy-five and Maureen is seventy-two. It has been ten years since Harold made his six-hundred-mile journey by foot to see a friend and the two have settled into a comfortable and even loving relationship. But the story doesn’t end there. Now his wife, Maureen, has her own pilgrimage to make. She wants to see Queenie's sea garden where there is a sculptural tribute or memorial to their son David, who killed himself thirty years earlier, as well as one to Harold.

Maureen, however, is not Harold. She is prickly, standoffish, opinionated, easily irritated, and, well, not a people-person. Her journey, by car rather than foot, perfectly highlights their differences. She doesn't easily warm up to people and speaks her mind way-too-often. The hurdles she faces are quite different from those Harold faced, but they are truly a challenge for her.

I truly loved this final novel focused on Maureen. It is wonderfully focused, poignant, and perceptive character study of Maureen, with all her flaws, misgivings, and doubts. She is still trying to deal with the loss of their son, David, even though years have passed. She feels a strange compulsion to make this journey and see Queenie's garden, but she is completely unsure of what she will find and how she will react. Her reaction is surprising, but in the end life changing for Maureen.

Maureen highlights the skill, empathy, and insightful details Joyce provides for her characters. While reading, even when Maureen is being especially difficult, Joyce also provides an avenue for readers to empathize with her and her curmudgeonly attitude. This is a short novel with a powerful impact.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Random House via NetGalley.

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