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

“People can love in different ways. You can love full-on, with a lot of noise, or you can do it quietly, over the washing-up. You can even love a person without them knowing.” 

― Rachel Joyce, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

A beautiful love tale about Queenie Hennessy, the extraordinary companion who motivated Harold's cross-country journey, is the next book from the New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a smashing international bestseller, followed its unassuming hero on an epic adventure as he walked the whole length of England. This voyage was inspired by a simple letter from his old friend Queenie Hennessy, who wrote from a hospice to bid goodbye. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is a smart, sensitive, multi-layered tale that evokes strong emotions. It emphasizes the resiliency of the human spirit while artfully highlighting the minute yet crucial events that can profoundly alter someone's life.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note had explained she was dying. How can she wait?

A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything. In confessing to secrets she has hidden for twenty years, she will find atonement for the past. As the volunteer points out, 'Even though you've done your travelling, you're starting a new journey too.'

Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was the beginning.

My reaction to this novel...

I read the first book in this series years ago, and I absolutely adored it, so I had high expectations for the second book. Actually, I began reading this book about two months ago, but about halfway through, I grew disinterested and thought I couldn't comprehend what was occurring in the tale, so I made the decision to put it down for a time and choose another book. The book caught my attention again this week while I was seeking for something new to read, and I eventually finished it with a different perspective than when I had initially started reading it months before.

Despite the fact that I adore both books, I found a lot of frustrating parts in both of them. It was really difficult for me to identify to Harold's experience while reading the first book since he seemed to be living in a world that was so depressingly disconnected from reality. How was it possible for someone to live as he did? I was frustrated with him on several levels because I was unable to comprehend what he was going through, even before what had happened to his son, and nothing he did made sense to me. I thus had high expectations for this book in terms of my ability to fully comprehend his viewpoint, yet I was still unable to do so. His and Queenie's stories are both dismal. But, even if Queenie's narrative is somewhat depressing, I can say that it was far more pleasing since, although being similarly sad, I found a lot of beauty in how she lived her life. Queenie was far more perceptive than Harold. She enjoyed life more than he did. She loved deeply and without reservation which I believe is both challenging and noble.

The scenario with Harold's son is another part that I find a little challenging to read. He upset me and, like his father's story, I found it hard to comprehend him since there wasn't enough information to back up his despair. Maybe this will be covered in the third book, which I am looking forward to reading. I felt sorry for, and sometimes frustrated by, his character, but what happened to him deeply saddened me, and it's understandable that Queenie felt the same way for a long time. Furthermore, while I firmly think that there is love that is as sincere and excessively strong as what Queenie is experiencing, I thought Queenie's sensitivity for Harold caused the situation to escalate into an unbearable degree of drama.

There were a couple of instances when I felt Joyce should have left Harold Fry's story alone, but there is also a lot of satisfaction in reading the poignant situations at Queenie's hospice because I get to know some lovely, eccentric, and intriguing characters, who, along with others like Queenie, are battling to come to grips with the approaching end of their lives.

The love and vitality that Queenie strives to convey to everyone who is experiencing the same things as she did really drew my attention, even though I often felt sad for the majority of the story's chapters. As a result of how intense and emotional it is, I firmly believe that you should first decide whether or not you actually want to read a sad narrative since it will genuinely make you sad at various points.

My Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4/5)

“When a thing is taken away, you see more clearly what it brought to your life...”

There are some things in life that we take for granted because they seem so normal to us. We don't recognize how essential and important they are to our lives, so we go about our daily lives unaware that some of these things might one day be taken from us. When this happens, we will only feel a sense of emptiness and shock as we realize that the thing has vanished or is no longer anywhere to be found.

“Sometimes you have to do something with your pain because otherwise it will swallow you.”

This, I believe, is how most depressed people feel. It is true that we all experience some level of everyday pain. There are several types of pain that we are feeling. Yet, I believe that this assertion raises a red flag because, as I read it, I was struck by how depressing it is and the need for action on the part of the person speaking, who felt as though the agony was ready to consume his life. Because we are all unique individuals with various coping strategies, we should also be mindful of and sensitive to how others are coping. So, I believe that the best things we can do for those who are experiencing this are to provide them support and understanding.


Disclaimer: Booksreadbyhannel is not a business website. The opinions expressed here are unbiased and based only on my own feelings and reactions while reading the books I featured here in my blog. My reviews reflect my utmost sincerity. I paid for the books I review here out of my own pocket. Books provided by authors and publishers are otherwise specified.