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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
Cover of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
Harold Fry Series, Book 2
Borrow Borrow
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an exquisite love story about Queenie Hennessy, the remarkable friend who inspired Harold’s cross-country journey.
“This lovely book is full of joy. Much more than the story of a woman’s enduring love for an ordinary, flawed man, it’s an ode to messy, imperfect, glorious, unsung humanity.”—The Washington Post

A runaway international bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry followed its unassuming hero on an incredible journey as he traveled the length of England on foot—a journey spurred by a simple letter from his old friend Queenie Hennessy, writing from a hospice to say goodbye. Harold believed that as long as he kept walking, Queenie would live. What he didn’t know was that his decision to walk had caused her both alarm and fear. How could she wait? What would she say? Forced to confront the past, Queenie realizes she must write again.
In this poignant parallel story to Harold’s saga, acclaimed author Rachel Joyce brings Queenie Hennessy’s voice into sharp focus. Setting pen to paper, Queenie makes a journey of her own, a journey that is even bigger than Harold’s; one word after another, she promises to confess long-buried truths—about her modest childhood, her studies at Oxford, the heartbreak that brought her to Kingsbridge and to loving Harold, her friendship with his son, the solace she has found in a garden by the sea. And, finally, the devastating secret she has kept from Harold for all these years.
A wise, tender, layered novel that gathers tremendous emotional force, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy underscores the resilience of the human spirit, beautifully illuminating the small yet pivotal moments that can change a person’s life.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an exquisite love story about Queenie Hennessy, the remarkable friend who inspired Harold’s cross-country journey.
“This lovely book is full of joy. Much more than the story of a woman’s enduring love for an ordinary, flawed man, it’s an ode to messy, imperfect, glorious, unsung humanity.”—The Washington Post

A runaway international bestseller, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry followed its unassuming hero on an incredible journey as he traveled the length of England on foot—a journey spurred by a simple letter from his old friend Queenie Hennessy, writing from a hospice to say goodbye. Harold believed that as long as he kept walking, Queenie would live. What he didn’t know was that his decision to walk had caused her both alarm and fear. How could she wait? What would she say? Forced to confront the past, Queenie realizes she must write again.
In this poignant parallel story to Harold’s saga, acclaimed author Rachel Joyce brings Queenie Hennessy’s voice into sharp focus. Setting pen to paper, Queenie makes a journey of her own, a journey that is even bigger than Harold’s; one word after another, she promises to confess long-buried truths—about her modest childhood, her studies at Oxford, the heartbreak that brought her to Kingsbridge and to loving Harold, her friendship with his son, the solace she has found in a garden by the sea. And, finally, the devastating secret she has kept from Harold for all these years.
A wise, tender, layered novel that gathers tremendous emotional force, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy underscores the resilience of the human spirit, beautifully illuminating the small yet pivotal moments that can change a person’s life.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book All you have to do is wait!

    Your letter arrived this morning. We were in the dayroom for morning activities. Everyone was asleep.

    Sister Lucy, who is the youngest nun volunteering in the hospice, asked if anyone would like to help with her new jigsaw. Nobody answered. “Scrabble?” she said.

    Nobody stirred.

    “How about Mousetrap?” said Sister Lucy. “That’s a lovely game.”

    I was in a chair by the window. Outside, the winter evergreens flapped and shivered. One lone seagull balanced in the sky.

    “Hangman?” said Sister Lucy. “Anyone?”

    A patient nodded, and Sister Lucy fetched paper. By the time she’d got sorted, pens and a glass of water and so on, he was dozing again.

    Life is different for me at the hospice. The colors, the smells, the way a day passes. But I close my eyes and I pretend that the heat of the radiator is the sun on my hands and the smell of lunch is salt in the air. I hear the patients cough, and it is only the wind in my garden by the sea. I can imagine all sorts of things, Harold, if I put my mind to it.

    Sister Catherine strode in with the morning delivery. “Post!” she sang. Full volume. “Look what I have here!”

    “Oh, oh, oh,” went everyone, sitting up.

    Sister Catherine passed several brown envelopes, forwarded, to a Scotsman known as Mr. Henderson. There was a card for the new young woman. (She arrived yesterday. I don’t know her name.) There is a big man they call the Pearly King, and he had another parcel though I have been here a week and I haven’t yet seen him open one. The blind lady, Barbara, received a note from her neighbor—­Sister Catherine read it out—­spring is coming, it said. The loud woman called Finty opened a letter informing her that if she scratched off the foil window, she would discover that she’d won an exciting prize.

    “And, Queenie, something for you.” Sister Catherine crossed the room, holding out an envelope. “Don’t look so frightened.”

    I knew your writing. One glance and my pulse was flapping. Great, I thought. I don’t hear from the man in twenty years, and then he sends a letter and gives me a heart attack.

    I stared at the postmark. Kingsbridge. Straight away I could picture the muddy blue of the estuary, the little boats moored to the quay. I heard the slapping of water against the plastic buoys and the clack of rigging against the masts. I didn’t dare open the envelope. I just kept looking and looking and remembering.

    Sister Lucy rushed to my aid. She tucked her childlike finger under the flap and wiggled it along the fold to tear the envelope open. “Shall I read it out for you, Queenie?” I tried to say no, but the no came out as a funny noise she mistook for a yes. She unfolded the page, and her face seeped with pink. Then she began to read. “It’s from someone called Harold Fry.”

    She went as slowly as she could, but there were a few words only. “I am very sorry. Best wishes. Oh, but there’s a P.S. too,” said Sister Lucy. “He says, Wait for me.” She gave an optimistic shrug. “Well, that’s nice. Wait for him? I suppose he’s going to make a visit.”

    Sister Lucy folded the letter carefully and tucked it back inside the envelope. Then she placed my post in my lap, as if that were the end of it. A warm tear slipped down the side of my nose. I hadn’t heard your name spoken for twenty years. I had held the words only inside my head.

    “Aw,”...
About the Author-
  • Rachel Joyce is the author of Miss Benson’s Beetle, The Music Shop, the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, as well as the digital short story A Faraway Smell of Lemon and a story collection, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her books have been translated into thirty-six languages and two are in development for film. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Booker Prize. Joyce was named the Specsavers National Book Awards “New Writer of the Year” in December 2012 and shortlisted for the “UK Author of the Year” 2014. Joyce has also written more than thirty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Brontë novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre, and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 9, 2015
    Joyce's bestselling novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, followed the journey of Harold, a retiree who chose to walk the entire length of England to reunite with an old friend. This novel focuses on the old friend in question: Queenie Hennessy, who's dying of cancer in a hospice in northern England. When she receives word that Harold's begun walking the 600 miles to see her, Queenie's apprehensive: they haven't seen each other in 20 years. As she begins to write in a long letter to Harold, readers see that their unorthodox friendship was far more complicated than Harold may think. Through Queenie's flashbacks, we see the beginnings of their friendship when they met as coworkers at the local brewery. We also learn new information about Queenie's secret friendship with Harold's teen son, David; the circumstances around David's tragic early death; and Queenie's long-hidden feelings for Harold. In the present day, Queenie's fellow patients in the hospice also take up the mantle of waiting for Harold, and some poignant and hilarious new bonds form. Fans of Harold's story will appreciate a chance to meet him again and hear his story from a new angle, and after a slow and slightly confusing start, even newcomers to Queenie and Harold's doomed love story will not be immune to its charms. A bittersweet final twist is a fitting cap to a tragic, touching tale.

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2014

    Joyce's celebrated debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, opened with cancer-ridden Queenie Hennessy writing a good-bye letter to an old friend. Here, Queenie has written another letter, unsent, that details her upbringing and what working with Harold has meant to her. A lovely complement to Pilgrimage that also works as a stand-alone

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from February 1, 2015
    In Joyce's Man Booker Prize short-listed debut novel (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, 2012), her peripatetic protagonist walks the length of England to get to the hospice bedside of Queenie Hennessy, a coworker he knew briefly, though not well, 20 years earlier. In this beguiling follow-up, Joyce tracks Harold's journey from Queenie's point-of-view. Disfigured and silenced by a facial malignancy, Queenie can only communicate through scrawled notes and garbled grunts; but with each of Fry's postcards imploring her to hang on until his arrival, Queenie takes the opportunity to revisit their shared past, trying to atone for her perceived part in the suicide death of Harold's son, David. With the support and exhortations of her tender caregivers and boisterous fellow patients, Queenie reveals a lonely but ultimately rewarding life gardening by the sea, where she both abandoned and embraced her love for this strange, silent man. Sequels are often slippery things, books readers welcome a bit hesitantly, fearful that the second installment won't hold a candle to the first. In telling Queenie's side of the story, Joyce accomplishes the rare feat of endowing her continuing narrative with as much pathos and warmth, wisdom and poignancy as her debut. Harold was beloved by millions; Queenie will be, too.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • The Guardian "In the end, this lovely book is full of joy. Much more than the story of a woman's enduring love for an ordinary, flawed man, it's an ode to messy, imperfect, glorious, unsung humanity. . . . [Queenie's] love song is for us. Thank you, Rachel Joyce."--The Washington Post "Destined to change your world. One can't help but see life, and the end of it, differently after experiencing this novel. Full of wisdom and heart, it will overwhelm its readers with a deep sensitivity."--Bookreporter "[A] beguiling follow-up . . . In telling Queenie's side of the story, Joyce accomplishes the rare feat of endowing her continuing narrative with as much pathos and warmth, wisdom and poignancy as her debut. Harold was beloved by millions; Queenie will be, too."--Booklist (starred review) "Delightful and dark . . . But Joyce is so deft that when the book is over and you close the cover, the darkness fades. What sticks with you is the light of Queenie's unwavering love."--Minneapolis Star Tribune "[A] deeply affecting novel . . . Culminating in a shattering revelation, [Queenie's] tale is funny, sad, hopeful: She's bound for death, but full of life."--People "Joyce's writing at moments has a simplicity that sings. She captures hope best of all."
  • The Independent "Joyce has a wonderfully evocative turn of phrase and like her other books this is a delightful read. . . . Queenie is an uplifting and moving companion to Harold."--Daily Express "Joyce nicely calls the book a companion rather than a sequel. But The Love Song is bolder than a retread of the same material from another angle. . . . After two such involving novels, readers are bound to wish for a third."--The Telegraph "[Joyce] manages to both add depth to an already strong work and build something new and beautiful upon it."--The A.V. Club "A wonderful read . . . It is not necessary to read Harold's story before reading Queenie's to enjoy this bittersweet novel, which is a pleasure in its own right. However, reading both will only serve to double that pleasure."
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Harold Fry Series, Book 2
Rachel Joyce
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