Fiction Duo:
Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James & Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
September 20, 2017
Discussion begins at 7:30pm in the Lecture Hall

The next gathering of Beebe Library’s book discussion group Books By the Lake will discuss both Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James, and Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. In Canadian author Hooper’s debut, 82-year-old Etta takes a rifle, some chocolate, and her best boots, and begins walking from rural Saskatchewan to Halifax. Drawing on wisdom and whimsy of astonishing grace and maturity, Hooper has written an irresistibly enchanting novel that explores mysteries of love, the horrors of war and perils of loneliness, and the tenacity of time and fragility of memory. Joyce’s first novel is a gentle and genteel charmer, brimming with British quirkiness yet quietly haunting in its poignant and wise examination of love and devotion about recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry who is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from an old friend, who he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie–who is 600 miles away.

While reading, please consider: Compare and contrast the journeys that the characters from both novels experience. Does it remind you of any other literary or real journeys?

Book Discussions are planned for the third Wednesday of the month September through June (No July or August 2017 meeting). All adult patrons enthusiastic about reading and talking about what they have read are invited to attend as often as they can. The conversations are lively, intelligent, and insightful—come and join us!

Circulation has multiple copies of the title chosen for the next discussion right before each meeting. If you wish to join us for the next discussion, there are some copies of both books at the Beebe Library, so reserve and pick up your copy as soon as possible.

If you have questions, please contact Leane Ellis at the Reference Desk (X6567) or leave a message on her voice mail at 246-6334, X6569. Email:

2017-2018 Discussion Titles were voted on by group members in May 2017.

2017-2018 SCHEDULE

  • To be read over the Summer; to be discussed on September 20, 2017: FICTION DUO: UNEXPECTED JOURNEYS-
    Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James &
    Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
  • October 18, 2017 Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451.
  • November 15, 2017 Woodson, Jacqueline. Another Brooklyn.
  • December 20, 2017 Zevin, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A.J. Filkry
  • January 17, 2018 Albom, Mitch. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto.
  • February 21, 2018 Viet Thanh Nguyen. The Sympathizer.
  • March 21, 2018 Johnson, Adam. The Orphan Master’s Son.
  • April 18, 2018 Barbery, Muriel. The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
  • May 16, 2018 David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers NONFICTION
  • June 19, 2018 Rothschild, Hannah. The Improbability of Love.

Previous Discussions (1998 to 2017)