Recap: Chatelaine Book Club with Rachel Joyce

Having just finished the book over the weekend and posted my review yesterday, it was with perfect timing that I had the opportunity to attend the Chatelaine Book Club event with Random House Canada to celebrate this fantastic debut novel from Rachel Joyce.

In the heart of the Yorkville neighbourhood in Toronto, The Oxley Public House was the location for this fantastically themed book club gathering. After some drinks, appetizers and book chatter we were introduced to Kristin from RHC and Laurie from Chatelaine who spoke briefly about Harold and the journey they experienced while reading it.  With a fabulous precursor to introducing Rachel to the room, it was announced that this fantastic debut novel is longlisted for the Man Booker Prize – a phenomenal achievement!

With some reshuffling of people in the standing-room-only space, Rachel then read a brief passage from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I have to say, this lovely English story sounds even more beautiful being read by the author’s proper British accent. It seems to make it even more real and adds that extra element to it.

After the reading, Rachel answered a few questions that the attendees had and spoke briefly about writing Harold. The novel actually had started as a radio play, of which Rachel had written many before. As a way of coping with the news that her father had fallen ill, Harold had developed out of those experiences; both men of few words and fewer public emotions. In a way, this was a chance for Rachel to honour her father’s legacy and, as she says, he never knew about the book and probably would have been mortified at the attention. While she stresses that her mother is nothing like Maureen, she took a lot of the feelings and experiences that her mother lived with after her father’s passing to work into the way that Maureen passed the time without Harold in the house. We got a chance to speak to Rachel about various moments in the book (which are sometimes difficult to do without giving away anything) and I was pleased to find that the role that the media plays in the novel was one that Rachel quite enjoyed as well! I also commented on the helpful map at the beginning of the book, and she said that she actually mapped out Harold’s journey in great detail because otherwise she felt like she would be cheating her readers. Telling us a humourous anecdote of how she quietly ripped away pages of the map in the car to build the journey map until her husband called her one day, lost somewhere because the map jumped from one location to another on the next page.

Someone had mentioned how unassuming the prose was, that it was a flowing – almost conversational – read, where it isn’t bogged down with frilly literary writing, and yet evokes that feeling in the reader of a fantastic literary journey. For Rachel, the book and Harold, both had leap-of-faith moments and once it was published and selling all around the world, it was like the book was going on a journey of its own without her. Perhaps all the publishers and readers along the way are like the strangers Harold meets on his journey, pushing him along and wishing for his success.

After all my raving of this fantastic debut book, I’m so happy to share with you the chance to win a signed copy for yourself so you can take this same journey with Harold Fry! (CANADA only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A huge thank you to Rachel Joyce, Chatelaine Books, Random House Canada and The Oxley Public House for a fantastic evening of books, fish & chips and all things British!


  1. Sounds like a fabulous event! Love your nail polish btw, I have one that’s that color. 😉 I somehow missed your review yesterday so I am going to check it out now.
    Amy recently posted..The Wild Ones by M. Leighton Excerpt and GiveawayMy Profile

  2. Sounds like an amazing event… wish I had been able to attend! My greatest journey thus far was the journey into motherhood… changed my life for the better! <3
    Lindsay @ Turning the Pages recently posted..Review: When In Doubt, Add ButterMy Profile

  3. This looks like such a great event! I’ve been watching this book for a while but I’m definitely going to check it out now.

  4. I’ve been hearing so many wonderful things about this book and it has been on my TPL wait list for quite a while. I was happy to hear you had read it and have not had a chance to read your review yet but will put aside some time today to do that. What a great evening!

  5. This book sounds adorable! One of my friends pointed out to me last week!

  6. Great recap! I loved hearing the way Rachel Joyce characterized Harold vocally. You could hear the frustration in the way she read his conversation with the hospice nurse. Just lovely–she should do her own audiobook. I also found it most interesting that this started life as a radio play–a very British thing, I think!

    Going to link over to this recap in my book review, if you don’t mind 😉
    Dee of EditorialEyes recently posted..Extraordinary ordinariness: A review of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceMy Profile

  7. Can’t wait to read this book. I simply adore the title of this book. There’s intrigue, suspense and warmth, all rolled into 6 words.

  8. What a very cool event! :)

    I think my greatest journey has been moving from being a person who was always so concerned with what others thought, to someone who is comfortable and confident with herself — as well as someone who feels just so thankful and blessed to be a part of this beautiful place we call home! I always seemed to take it for granted, but now I know what an amazing thing it is.

    Great giveaway!
    Kristilyn (Reading in Winter) recently posted..ARC REVIEW: You Don’t Want To Know, by Lisa JacksonMy Profile

  9. That looks like a tons of fun! 😀

    I think the greatest journey is my transformation from a 13 year old to 18 year old. I think I had grown up to a point where I see things differently, with better perspective.
    Ashley Chen recently posted..Book Trailer: Wake by Amanda HockingMy Profile

  10. Wonderful recap! Great seeing you and + 1 on the fish and chips and all things British love!
    Jaclyn recently posted..Review | Dare Me, Megan AbbottMy Profile

  11. I have read many positive reviews about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. It sounds like this year’s “must read”.

  12. Thanks for the recap! I was so upset I couldn’t go to the event, but it looked like you had a great time! I would have to say that my greatest journey (so far) has been mentally, considering that I just graduated from University and an now trying to find a job, it gets mentally straining sometimes, but I know it will all get better in time :)

    Thanks again for the post!

  13. My journey has been mentally fulfilling. Getting over my anxiety as I get older, thoughtfulness in the moment everyday.
    Laurie Burns recently posted..I am sappy for SappyMy Profile

  14. I think my greatest journey was when I moved away from home for University. It was a way to find out who I really am and it allowed me to grow into the person I am today.
    Stéphanie Leroux recently posted..PSC: Interview & Giveaway with Beth BernobichMy Profile

  15. The event sounded amazing, I have wanted to read the book the moment it hit Twitter verse- now when I read this book I am going to imagine it with the English accent

    • Oh and my greatest journey thus far… Living on my own in university, I learned so much responsibility and about myself and what I am capable of doing on my own

  16. Oh, my. I hadn’t heard about this book before seeing referenced on Twitter. It’s sounds lovely. I was going to enter the contest, but I guess it’s for Canadian residents only and I am in the US. Still – it sounds wonderful, and I love the author’s voice. I will look for it here.
    MaryDPierce recently posted..A prophetic Yogi tea tagMy Profile


  1. […] her (for a great recap of the event, hosted by Chatelaine Books and Random House, take a look at Just a Lil’ Lost’s blog), and she spoke about how carefully she planned out Harold’s walk, knowing exactly where Harold […]

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