Hey Guys! Sorry for the lack of a blog last week but I was away from all internet access for a whole week. But, the good news is I’m back and my break away from all internet access gave me some time to decide on some big things to come for this blog so watch this space. For now, let’s get back to my next blog post on The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy.
As I told you at the end of my blog post on The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, after reading to the end I found myself with more questions than when I had first begun. It was with these questions that I dove into the sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which is Rachel Joyce’s The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy. I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted out of the book, though. I knew I wanted more but more what? Did I want another plot? Yes, I suppose I did. Did I want my questions answered? Yes, I wanted that too. But how could I have both? Rachel Joyce managed to give me that.
It’s the same story of a man called Harold Fry who has decided to walk from the south of England to the north to visit a dying woman. But, this time the journey is not Harold’s but Queenie’s, the dying woman. Sitting in a hospice living out her last days on Earth and trying hard to wait as Harold had asked, Queenie decides (with the help of a new hospice assistant) to write, to write to Harold and explain everything. As Queenie begins to write about what happened to her in her life, she begins to remember the past, the good and the bad. Will Queenie be able to be honest with her emotions when she writes? Will she be able to get the truth out before she goes?
I suppose that you’ve guessed that since The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry hasn’t been made into a film yet, that obviously means that The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy hasn’t either. As I said with Harold Fry’s story, it really wouldn’t make a great film because a lot of Harold’s experience is emotional with a little bit of physical experience thrown in, which makes for a great novel but not for a great film. Queenie’s story is much the same. Although there are a number of flashbacks to her life before she winds up in the hospice, her time with Harold and beyond, a lot of Queenie’s story revolves around her thoughts and feelings towards her experience. It is also a really emotional story which I think would be overly emotional with actual images of someone suffering rather leaving the amount of suffering to the imagination. I think, personally, a story like Queenie’s might be a little too graphic for the big screen.
In My Humble Opinion:
But, having said how emotional and graphic Queenie’s story is I still think it was a great eye-opener for me and for many of you too if you happen to read it. I’ll tell you (apologies for the kind of spoiler) that Queenie is suffering from an incurable cancer. It’s interesting to read what someone with cancer, knowing that they’re going to die, thinks about and how they feel. I don’t think that anyone who has never had cancer – and those of us who have never had cancer and don’t have cancer can be super grateful – but those who have never suffered can never quite understand how someone truly feels and what they are truly thinking about. How could we, when we’ve never really stared our own mortality in the face? But Rachel Joyce’s book, while really emotional somehow helps to better understand the mind of a cancer-sufferer. Queenie knows she has little future, so instead she focuses on her past. She comes to terms with her life and what she’s accomplished as well as what mistakes she’s made. She knows that she can’t really change many of her mistakes (except perhaps, if she’s lucky and gets her story down in time, maybe her mistakes with Harold) and she knows that there is not much point in trying to learn from her mistakes but it seems to help her to take stock of her life.
Unlike the description I’ve just given you, which sounds particularly morbid and may have left you thinking: why on this earth would I want to read a book that’s so graphic and emotional about a cancer-sufferer who’s taking stock of her life and knows she’s got no future? It sounds awful. But it’s not! Actually it’s a great story. (Just keep the tissues handy.) Joyce’s design in writing this story seems to me to present readers with life-lessons that Queenie should have learnt but didn’t. Lessons like, the bad things that happen around you aren’t always your fault so don’t blame yourself for everything; everyone is dealing with their own issues even if they don’t seem to be as unhappy as you feel and; life’s not as bad as it always seems when you stop for a moment and just enjoy it with simplicity. These lessons Queenie should have learnt but didn’t and it’s up to readers to learn on her behalf. We are given the opportunity go away from this book feeling better about ourselves and our lives because of Queenie.
So this book isn’t really a book about death; it’s a book about life! And hopefully Queenie’s story does to you what it did to me: make you go out and live life to the best of you abilities. After all, what matters is the here and now, not what might be. Sounds like an inspiring book now, doesn’t it? Well, if you head over to the image at the top of the page it will take you to Amazon where you can grab a copy of the book and see for yourself just how inspiring Queenie is. Like so many individuals out there battling through cancer, I hope Queenie’s story will teach and inspire you too.
This blog post is dedicated to my grandmother, Margret Dubber, who sadly lost her fight against cancer long before she got the chance to meet her writer granddaughter.
Margret Barbara Ann Dubber: August 1984 – October 1987