The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
By Rachel Joyce
ARC paperback, 370 pages
2015, Random House
ISBN: 9780812996678 (hardcover)
I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
In The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Harold learns that his old co-worker Queenie Hennessy is suffering from a terminal illness, so he decides to walk the length of England to visit her. Now readers hear Queenie’s side of the story as she deals with the fear of what Harold may think when he arrives and the memories she relives as she waits for him. She decides to write a letter to him, detailing the events of their past and some of her life in the present.
It’s been quite some time since I read Harold Fry and I almost wish I’d gone back and re-read it first. But I remembered the basic outline and so I set off on Queenie’s part of the journey. And what a journey it was! While Queenie was the motivation for Harold’s journey, she wasn’t much of a presence in his book. This time we hear from her directly, both about her current life in the hospice, battling her illness and about her past with Harold and his son, David. Sadly, I can’t remember if there was much talk of David in the last book, but he’s very present in this book and gives more light to Harold’s character. There’s a lot more to Harold and Queenie’s past than Harold ever realized, and Queenie details it all in her long letter to Harold.
There are also several other people in the hospice with Queenie, and while Joyce doesn’t give a lot of detail about their lives, they all felt very real. Suddenly Harold’s journey doesn’t just have Queenie waiting, but the whole hospice. Looking back into her past, Queenie reveals the difficult times she’s been through, as well as her deep love for Harold.
I won’t say too much about the plot, as it intertwines with the first book, and I think that you should just read both. The short chapters made this book easy to breeze through; you know, one of those books where you say “I’ll just read one more chapter” and then you realize you’re halfway through the book? And the ending! THE ENDING! Maybe I’m overly emotional (I totally am), but this book gave me a good cry. I always appreciate when a writer creates something with enough emotion to actually affect me like that. Props to Ms. Joyce.
I found a number of meaningful quotes in this book, and I’ll leave you with this one, “When a thing is taken away, you see more clearly what it brought to your life.”
+ Vocabulary alert +
anodyne – not likely to offend or upset anyone
teetotalism – the practice of complete abstinence from alcoholic drinks
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy book is an excellent companion to Harold Fry and it added backstory I didn’t know I was truly missing until I read this. There was a lot of emotion in this book and I felt it pretty deeply. I won both these books from LibraryThing and I’m grateful, as they’re not typically something I would pick up – I would definitely be missing out if I’d never read them!