Van has finished reading…The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

14 May

As much as I tried to come to The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy with an open mind, I couldn’t help but arrive expecting to revisit something of Harold’s Unlikely Pilgrimage. And I did, in a way, except that at the same time I ended up on a very different journey. With Harold’s journey there was only possibility, whereas with Queenie I already knew where it was going to end.

There’s an underlying harshness to this novel – certainly at the start – echoed in Mr Henderson’s baleful cry of ‘the woman has not read the small print’.  The residents of the hospice provide the much-needed light relief, albeit often of a gallows nature. It’s Harold’s approach that galvanises the story and the residents, drawing them together as the excitement of it all infects their existence and the novel itself softens and warms – most notably with the aforementioned Mr Henderson. There is a truly beautiful scene between him and Queenie later in the book. While we get there Finty is on hand in all her irreverent glory.

As with The Unlikely Pilgrimage there’s quite a cast of characters and Rachel Joyce appears to treat them all with affection. They are there for a reason, but it comic or tragic or somewhere in between and it’s this purpose, this affection which lifts them above being off-the-peg caricatures – in a world where there could quite easily have been Nun number one (the funny one); Nun number two (the religious one) there is instead light and shade, depth and emotion. Ditto for the residents.

Of course it’s no surprise to reach the end of the book, but even so it felt neither rushed nor staved off. And even in the sure knowledge of that closing chapter in Queenie’s life, Rachel Joyce has a neat surprise or two up her sleeve. But I can’t tell you about those. Some mysteries must be left for others to uncover…

These two books stand on their own but I think what Queenie reveals here will give you more than you’ll want to know when starting the Unlikely Pilgrimage. Read them in order if you can, but read them you must.


One Response to “Van has finished reading…The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce”


  1. The Inaugural Curtis Brown Book Group – my first six months as a #CBBookGroupie | vanisreading - 01/07/2015

    […] The Love Song Of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce […]

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