Book Talk: Rachel Joyce's inspiring story set in a hospice

Mon Mar 2, 2015 6:17am EST
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(This January 26 story was corrected to fix name of previous novel in paragraph 2))

By Verity Watkins

LONDON (Reuters) - British novelist Rachel Joyce's new novel "The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy" is a curiously inspiring story set in a hospice.

The two main characters first appeared in Joyce's bestselling novel "The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry", about a man who walks for weeks across England to see an old friend who is dying of cancer, Queenie Hennessy. In the latest novel, their friendship is seen through the eyes of Queenie as she looks back over her life.

It is a moving tale of loneliness, loss and acceptance, and although the setting seems bleak there is an affectionate warmth and humor in the prose.

Queenie has held a torch for Harold, an old work colleague, for more than 40 years, unbeknown to him.

As Harold makes the trek to visit her, Queenie reflects on her former life at her beach house and the beautiful garden she created. And as she explores her memories of her relationship with Harold, and the guilt hidden at its heart concerning his tragic son David, it becomes clear that Queenie has a journey of her own to make.

Joyce, a former Royal Shakespeare Company actress and BBC playwright, spoke to Reuters recently about her latest novel.   Continued...