Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
I hesitated on this purchase because of its popularity (often I don't go for what everyone else raves about); also some of the negative reviews made me wonder. I was afraid it would be a hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer tearjerker. I'm really picky: picky about good writing and extraordinarily picky about narration. I simply loved this book, and the reader was superb. Jim Broadbent strikes the perfect tone with the narration and his characterization of Harold. It is a beautiful story, read so tenderly, and I'm so glad I took a chance on it. I certainly hope Jim Broadbent does more audiobooks.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I have read one review making the inevitable comparison to Forrest Gump's long run, and I confess that I had made that same connection. But while we could never really access Gump's inner world during his unplanned journey, we do get to travel intimately with Harold Fry, and that makes all the difference. From the beginning, when he is moved to tears by Queenie's letter saying goodbye, we realize that there is a much deeper story here than mere sadness over an old friend's illness. There are dark, secret waters flowing through Harold's memory, and that river sweeps him onto the road of self discovery with the reader in tow. Through the author's direct and deceptively simple language we connect with Harold's character and find a much more complex person than any of his own acquaintances would have suspected.
We also encounter a wider cast of characters, some major (wife Maureen), many minor, but through these encounters we learn more about Harold, and he about himself. When he is at his most alone and despairing point, I found connection to a different Tom Hanks role - Cast Away, especially when things he held precious on his journey were lost - as Hanks lost his WIlson. I could feel his spirit draining away.
The author has created a uniquely clear-eyed tone - poignant without sentiment, tragic (in places) without melodrama, and humor without comedy. Read with utter believability by Jim Broadbent, we grow to love most of the characters, even some of the apparently insignificant ones. This is a journey in the most common sense - one footstep after another. It is not an adventure. Readers who strain for the destination, impatient for journey's end will not get it. Those who arrive with Harold will be well rewarded.
What can I say about Harold. He captures your heart and reminds me of the days of my grandparents and their stiff upper lip and absurd way of thinking of putting one foot in front of the other. I was captivated by the story even the pilgrim nonsense that is a brilliant way to show how social media is usually wrong and sensational seeking. The reader was excellent. Loved the book - it was GOOD and I haven't really listened to a GOOD book in awhile. Ignore the nonsense that people will post about it being a spiritual book and comparing it to this and that. It is a great story told by an engaging story teller.
The philosophical bent of this National Bestseller had me hooked from the start. Harold and Maureen were NOT living the dream life of retired couples. Harold was boarded and boarding. Maureen complained about anything and everything, with Harold being at fault for all her disappointments.
When a seemingly innocuous letter came for Harold, everything began to change. An old work colleague, Queenie Hennessy, has written Harold to tell him she is dying of cancer. Harold hasn't seen her, nor really thought about her in 20 years. BUT, he feels the need to write her a short consoling note. Thus the "pilgrimage" begins. In taking his letter to the mailbox, he runs into a young girl who tells a tale of "just believing". Harold then decides that if her walks the 500 miles, to hand deliver his letter to Queenie, she will keep living.
During his miles and miles of walking, he meets many different people. Some want to just talk with him and give a helping hand. Some, become nuisances in many different ways. Through all of this, Harold thinks back on his life and gains different perspectives of it's meaning for him and Maureen.
I agree with all the many fans who have made this book a bestseller, and book award nominee. The writing style is engaging and very compelling. Harold's perspective on his life, reads almost like a journal, with life lessons and questions intertwined. There is a great deal of sadness in this book, but many lessons learned in the backward perspective Harold attains from his very unusual walking trip. Different, but wonderful book!!
Being visually impaired, I've never read the print version, but the audio edition is definitely high quality.
I could compare this book to others I've read about people who walk across the United States for one reason or another, but most of those books are true stories. However, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is just as believable.
I liked the way this narrator portrayed Harold, Maureen, and Rex, but he did an excellent job of making all characters come alive, giving each his/her own distinct voice.
I can't imagine a more suitable title for this book. It relates well to the story.
I just lost my husband who was partially paralyzed as a result of two strokes. I had been caring for him at home for the past six years. Over a month ago, I had to move him to a nursing home because he was losing strength, and it was getting harder and harder to lift him. When I first started this book, I wondered for a fleeting moment if when his nurse called to tell me he was declining and it was time to think about end of life care, what if instead of using the paratransit service, I walked the one mile from my home to Sheridan Manor? It wouldn't have been much of a pilgrimage, but would it have saved him? This was highly unlikely, just as it wasn't likely that Harold walking the six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed wouldn't have saved Queenie, but hope springs eternal, right? I don't know why I chos to read this book at this time, but it gave me a new prespective on life and death. To learn more about this book and its author, please visit my blog.
I really liked this book. It touched on so many facets of life that are so easy to push under the carpet. It examines the secrets people hold inside of them, eat them up but feel hopeless to discuss them. While being blunt and honest with the problems of the characters the story also fills you with compassion and hope. Harold and Maureen come to life and you become very close to them. You cheer Harold on - laugh at some of his encounters and shake your head at others. It is a thought provoking, tender, moving book that stays with you long after you're finished with it.
This book is one of the best books I have listened to in many years.
The entire book was wonderful but the ending was so unexpected ( Iwill say no more)
Harold Fry, the book is his story
A film about healing.
I cannot wait for the movie. If properly done it will be an award winner.
As good as any, better than most. Charming, intelligent, gentle, wide cast of a plot, superior language, psychology of characterization throughout
The whole thing is memorable. I'll point to Rex saying to Maureen," Did you think I didn't notice something was wrong?"
Life, timing, emphasis here, less there, voices of the gentle and the crude, the mature and the green
Do yourself a favor and listen attentively.
Harold's pilgrimage to Queenie is life-changing and told with unspeakable beauty and clarity. You grow to love Harold and Maureen because they are so broken like all of us. The narrator is absolutely perfect. He takes his time narrating to allow you the time to really hear the incredible descriptions of the journey and the people Harold meets along the way. Don't miss this book as it is truly wonderful.
Masterfully written and well performed. I enjoyed every minute of this book. The story unfolded like the English countryside.