In her comments after writing The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, Rachel Joyce said that she resisted writing this companion book to her wildly popular The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. She thought there was nothing more to be said, but people kept asking about Miss Hennessy. Years passed and suddenly one evening at dinner with her family the author had an idea that brought the story of the woman dying of cancer to life in her mind. She paused her other projects and returned Harold Fry's world, for which many readers are now grateful.
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is not a sequel or a prequel. It stands well alone, which is good, for I had forgotten so much of what happened in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I had retained the story of the walk across England and the public reaction but had specifically forgotten the sad bits. The sad bits return in this new book, and some are really heartbreaking. As a reader, I sometimes wanted the painful episodes to end, but I realize they gave the comic bits depth. In that way, the story is very real.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry has proved to be an excellent choice for book discussion groups. I believe The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is its equal in this regard, but do not wait to have your group assign it to read it.
Joyce, Rachel. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. Random House, 2014. 366p. ISBN 9780812996678.
Audiobook: Random House, 2014. 9 compact discs. ISBN 9780553410105.