The Love song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

Author Rachel Joyce has the amazing knack of beautifully capturing humanity and making ordinary lives and simple ordinary moments into the extraordinary. Rachel Joyce so carefully presents normal folk with their fears, faults, foibles, and their “fragile realness” and makes them completely relatable to the reader. The talented Rachel Joyce is an author, playwright and actress. The Love song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is the companion novel to the quaint tale, The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Whilst the later is a charming, heartwarming novel, The Love song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is more sombre but simultaneously inspiring. In a nutshell it is more a punchy dose of “reality”. If you (the reader)  fell in love with Harold Fry and his unlikely pilgrimage, it is hard not to wonder more about Queenie Hennessy. I was genuinely curious about her “side of the story”. I wanted to know why a man would embark on a 627 mile walk in attempt to save Queenie. I wanted to know why Queenie would scrawl a massive confessional note to a man whom she had not seen in decades. For what was a platonic friendship why were Queenie and Harold so entwined with each other emotionally. I wanted to know more about the promise of hope that is central to both tales.

Queenie Hennessy is an aging woman, waiting out her dying days in a hospice. Although not physically walking like Harold Fry, during this time Queenie undertakes her own journey through her recollections, and her memories both painful and joyous. Through this process she slowly finds a way to make peace with all that is past and gather the courage to embrace the impending future. Queenie notes “If only memory were a library with everything stored where it should be. If only you could walk to the desk and say to the assistant, I’d like to return the painful memories about … and take out some happier ones, please”. She has a difficult journey to undertake, but with some encouragement from a hospice nun she bravely marches forwards towards the end. This is a book of secrets, and confessions and a poignant tale about the gentle, practiced art of waiting.