There's something about British...what genre is this? domestic fiction? Whatever it is, when it's done in England, it's often done so well.
Had this been American, more than likely Harold would have slept with some woman along the way, Maureen would have had an affair with the neighbor, it would have been gritty and seedy and Hobbesian (is that a word? GR says it's not. I'm too lazy to look up the proper term) with lots of solitary, poor, and nasty. But it's not. It's English and it's a soft-spoken story of too many broken things coming together at once and one potential healing as a result.
I love that the storyline begins with blahness then jumps into hope, then swells into inspiration from which determination, a sense of Buddhist-like awareness, and an acceptance of self evolves and then it ends with reality and brings about forgiveness and acceptance and those, in turn, lead to knowledge. I appreciate that there's not a fairy tale ending, that it isn't all rainbows and sparkles but is, instead, what would probably really happen.
I felt the story was beautiful in how it mirrored the dullness and smallness of life, how everything gets battered down to nubs, but how sometimes that can spur big steps (many big steps, in this case) and, in the end, maybe a dull and small life is shiny enough if you keep it polished.
Man, that makes no sense.
I'm having a hard time describing what charmed me about this story and I'm failing but I think this story will stick with me a good, long while.