- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 10 hours and 35 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audiobooks
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 9 Oct. 2014
- Language: English, English
- ASIN: B00NQ8CDO4
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy Audiobook – Unabridged
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And yet I liked this book less than her other two books. Joyce is a master in evoking emotionally laden images of actions that make you guess at the emotions and feelings behind those actions. There is an image in `An unlikely pelgrimage' that has stayed with me. It's about Maureen. I didn't particularly like Maureen. But in one image Joyce draws her in all her vulnerability. In an effort to be closer to Harold, Maureen reunites her and his clothes by draping the sleeve of his jacket over one of her dresses. That action says all there is to say about Maureen.
In this book we are mainly in the head of Queenie. It was an attractive head to be in. She is such a gentle person. But the writing is very descriptive; we aren't shown Queenie's love, we are told. Queenie tells in her letters about her love for Harold. We read about the effect Harold has on Queenie: she trembles, she loves his socks, she can write poetry about his driving gloves, she feels completely safe with him. She lives in her love for him. He is her life. That excessive trust and love makes it troublesome; the story lacks conflict. Harold has no flaws; she doesn't question her excessive love for him. It would have made a difference if we had known why Queene loves Harold without reticence. We get a glimpse of the lacklustre relationships she had, but not more than glimpses. I know she loves Harold, because she says is all the time but I don't entirely know why she loves him.
Her relationship with David doesn't change that. Because her dealing with him is in actuality her dealing with Harold: boundless love. That said: David was a gripping person to read about.
The friendship between Harold and Queenie didn't deepen my image of Harold. That says a lot I think. He stayed that nice, dependable and noble man. Maureen's screen time is much shorter but so much more poignant. In a beautiful scene of hanging the laundry Joyce draws her as a vulnerable woman who is crazy with grief.
On a positive note: I thought the scenes in the hospice were marvellous, insightful and very humorous. If there were more nuns like that, the Roman Catholic Church didn't have to do so much damage control. They were lovely. And I loved Finty and her hats.
Anyway, I would ask everyone to read 'Harold Fry' before this one. Otherwise, you might be lost and confused before you begin. As Rachel herself writes in an Author's Note, the two books are companions. It is a delight to see the unfolding narrative from Queenie's point of view. The two compare and contrast well. Both are on a journey. Harold's is from one end of England to the other. Queenie's, in actual fact, is more arduous a journey even though her body does not move at all - although it did, before Harold, by train along the same route. He is following her journey. Her journey is from pain and misery into acceptance and joy even though it could be seen as tragic and depressing.
I learned a great deal from the different people she lives with at the hospice, (I agree with another reviewer that Finty is a delight) both her fellow 'patients' and the nuns. I loved her sea-garden which is in an area of England I know and visit often. There is also a wonderful twist near the end (no, no plot spoiler here!) which makes it all the more glorious because I had already fallen totally in love with Sister Mary Inconnue.
I now want to re-read Harold's pilgrimage. Perhaps the publishers will publish them as one novel. Either alternately or end to end, back to front. Just as thought.
Everybody fears death but after having read this book, I am ready to accept whatever happens to me. This novel can be read by everyone, whatever belief they adhere to - or not.