I read Finding Henry Applebee as part of the recent One More Chapter Readalong. It was good fun as during the week of the readalong there were lots of opportunities to connect with other readers and the author too. We were able to discuss themes of the novel, watch a Facebook Live with Celia Reynolds, find out about the inspiration behind the book and take part in competitions. I’d really recommend keeping an eye out for future readalongs.
I so enjoyed following Henry on his journey from London to Edinburgh and also that of his travelling companions, Ariel and Travis. 85 year old Henry is travelling to meet with someone who he hopes will be able to answer some questions which have haunted him for years and possibly to make amends. Ariel is also on a mission, having been tasked by her late mother to deliver a mysterious package to someone she has never heard of in Edinburgh. Travis is a jazz musician from New York, travelling north to meet up with his uncle who is also a performer.
The thing the struck me throughout the book was that it was all about connections. There were connections to the past whether through people or things that happened. There were the connections of friendship which formed between Henry, Ariel and Travis on the journey. And then there were the deeper connections between the characters which gradually became apparent. I felt a rather personal connection to the story partly since I live in Edinburgh but also because my parents met at a place which is very important in the story and in a way which was very similar to something which happened to a younger Henry. Enigmatic I know but I don’t want to give anything away!
I like a book which makes me feel and this one certainly did! It’s about making up for past mistakes, forgiveness, second chances, making amends and making sure you take opportunities when you can. It’s also about friendship and the importance of being kind, to others and yourself. All these themes are explored sensitively through events in Henry’s life and make for a poignant reading experience. It’s the kind of charming book you finish with a contented sigh as everything comes together and you are willing to let these characters continue on their personal journeys.
I just wanted to end with this quotation, which is something Henry says very near the very beginning. I thought this was just wonderful and a great thought to take away from the book.
“No matter what age we reach, or however much our lives may settle beneath the inevitable cloak of familiarity, it is never, ever too late to be amazed.”
My thanks to the publishers One More Chapter for my review copy from Netgalley. The book is available now in all formats. At the time of writing the Kindle edition is on offer for just 99p. Alternatively, you will find buying links for various retailers on the One More Chapter website here: Finding Henry Applebee
From the back of the book
Here Henry was, once again in a bustling train station, ready to resume where he had left off all those years ago…
Finding Henry Applebee is a charming, tender and uplifting story about unlikely friendships, the power of love – and how it’s never too late to change your life.
Perfect for fans of The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
Eighty-five-year-old Henry Arthur Applebee has had a pretty good life. But one regret has haunted him for the last sixty-five years.
And so, on an ordinary December morning, he boards a train from London to Edinburgh. His goal is simple: to find the woman who disappeared from his life decades earlier.
But Henry isn’t the only person on a mission. Also bound for Edinburgh is troubled teen, Ariel. And when the two strangers collide, what began as one humble journey will catapult them both into a whole new world…
About the Author
Celia Reynolds was born and raised in Wales and worked for almost twenty-five years in the film industry in London, and briefly Rome. In 2012, she left her job as European Marketing Director at Twentieth Century Fox to enrol in the Complete Creative Writing Course held at the Groucho Club in London’s West End. Later that year, she was awarded Runner Up prize in the London Writers’ Club/Hush Short Story Competition with a story featuring one of the characters in her debut novel, ‘Finding Henry Applebee’. After many years away, she now lives on the Gower coast in her native South Wales.
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