Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds
Publication Date : October 4th 2019
Publisher : One More Chapter
Genre : General Fiction
Pages : 427
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…
*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley as a part of readalong. Many thanks to Claire @One More Chapter. ***
Finding Henry Applebee was touching fiction that revolved around three travelling companion Henry Applebee, Ariel and Travis and how their chance meeting connected them for life. It was about intergenerational relationship, friendship, family, guilt, misunderstanding, forgiveness, kindness, and how it’s never too late to pursue your dream and right the wrong.
Writing was beautiful, vivid, descriptive, and captivating. It was written in dual time line- the present and the past of all characters was in different timeline- in third person narrative, mainly from Henry, Ariel and Travis’ POV, and Frank’s perspective for couple of chapters. There were many places mentioned but setting of London and Blackpool was amazingly described.
Book started with how 85 years old (and still counting) Henry living his life after his brother’s death. He was ex-serviceman and former language teacher but he had one guilt and regret; how one phone call gave him purpose and mission to go to Edinburg; and how at King Cross station he met 18 years old Ariel who also was on her own journey to Edinburg to fulfil her mother’s dying wish and on the same journey they met Travis- 20 something, an American jazz musician- who was traveling to meet his Uncle Frank. It was interesting to read their purpose on this journey and to find out what happens at the end of the journey. I was curious to know if Henry could find his love and right the wrong he did 65 years ago, what was in the letter Ariel was carrying with her, and why her mother told her to deliver it to Maia.
All characters were realistic, developed, and likable. I instantly loved Henry. He was kind, humble, wise and amiable gentleman. I admired his determination and strength, at the same time I wasn’t happy knowing his naïve and stupid action that separated him from his love and still It was easy to immerse in his story, put myself in his situation. I could understand and feel for him. I loved how he handled everything he found out at the end of the journey.
Ariel was developed, caring and kind for her age. I loved how she supported her family after her mother’s death. Her insecurities on finding Rosemary renting their attic was genuine. I’m glad there wasn’t bitterness in her after all she was going through. She was lovely throughout the book and her kindness towards Henry touched my heart. It was amazing to read how she appreciated her mother, her love, and family when she got to know the truth at the end of journey.
Travis was kind, lively and cheerful but his back story told about his sadness and life problems well that he hid well. I liked reading about turning points in his life that made him musician and his strong connection with his Uncle Frank who was fiftyish and also jazz musician. His and Ariel’s friendship on the train journey was interesting to read. He didn’t have much role but he was lovely and I loved how he helped and supported all characters in the book.
Best part of the book was intergenerational relationship, train journey and music. Jazz music was important for all characters. I don’t know much about jazz but all the insights given in the book was interesting. Their train journey from London to Edinburg was vivid and atmospheric. I could imagine myself sitting with characters in same coach. We know most of Henry’s story in this part which was emotive and mesmerising. I knew with elderly main character the story was going to be emotional but I was not prepared for the depth of it. This story made me cry both happy and sad tears.
Intergenerational relationship was amazing. It was explored between Frank- Travis, Ariel- Frank and Ariel- Henry. I loved how both Ariel and Travis were kind to both Frank and Henry, they helped and supported them throughout the book and boosted their confidence whenever needed. Both Frank and Henry inspired and motivated them about passion, music and living their dream, being different and finding rightful place in the world.
Some turns were predictable while some were good. Climax was most interesting. The last part, The Secrets, wrapped the story. I felt sad for Frank, what Travis did for him was great. Henry’s meeting at the book shop and at the house of Francine’s daughter was shocking and bittersweet. Ariel’s meeting with Mia was equally surprising. I loved knowing more about her family. It was amazing to see how they all connected with each other at the end. End was perfect, bittersweet and moving.
Why 4.5 stars-
Even though I loved Travis’ back story and his passion, I wish there was more role for him. Sometimes it felt the story could have been the same without him and I would have enjoyed it even though he wasn’t there.
Overall, Finding Henry Applebee was emotive, thought-provoking, moving and lovely fiction. I recommend this book if you love books with octogenarian main characters.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what you think about this book and my review, if you have read this already or going to add it to TBR.
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