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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry | [Rachel Joyce]

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof, or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking - to save someone else's life.
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Publisher's Summary

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof, or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking - to save someone else's life.

Jim Broadbent has starred in a huge range of films, from British favourites including Bridget Jones and Hot Fuzz, to Hollywood blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and the Harry Potter films. In 2001 he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Iris. Most recently he starred as Denis Thatcher opposite Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

©2012 Rachel Joyce (P)2012 Random House AudioGo

What the Critics Say

“From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn't want to leave him. Impossible to put down.” (Erica Wagner, The Times)

“Harold Fry is infuriating, hilarious and completely out of his depth, but I held my breath at his every blister and cramp and, felt, as if by turning the pages, I might help his impossible quest succeed. Marvellous!” (Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand)

“A magical, moving and uplifting tale about a man's journey across Britain and into his own heart.” (Deborah Moggach)

“I loved this book. I loved its purity, its brutality and unerring honesty. I don't think I have read such richly composed metaphors before. They are like shooting stars glittering across each page. I can't believe this is her first novel- I wait with bated breath for her next.” (Natascha McElhone)

“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry isn’t just a book I enjoyed reading, it’s a book I feel lucky to have read. It takes the most ordinary and unassuming of men and turns him into a hero for us all. Harold Fry faces the same questions we all do as we age, questions about the meaning of our lives, faith and love, but confronts them in a most surprising way. To go on this journey with him will not only break your heart, it might also just heal it.” (Tiffany Baker, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County)

“Late last year the time came to pick 2012’s ‘new face’ for books: I read a pile of first novels and enjoyed a few, but there was only one I adored, and that was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry… It is a funny book, a wise book, a charming book – but never cloying. It’s a book with a savage twist, - and yet never seems manipulative. Perhaps, because Harold himself is just wonderful… This book may follow a pattern set by another radio dramatist-turned-novelist, David Nicholls, whose One Day has now sold more than a million copies and been made into a successful film simply because one reader said to another ‘I love this book’ over and over again. So I’m telling you now: I love this book…From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn't want to leave him. Impossible to put down.” (Erica Wagner, The Times)

“Distinguished by remarkable confidence... Polished to perfection... Joyce's experience as a playwright shows in her ear for dialogue and eye for character diatom - even the walk-on parts stay with you as real people. She handles her material with deceptive lightness but Harold's journey towards a better version of himself is totemic. To read about him is to be moved to follow him.” (The Telegraph)

“This book is like a naive painting: simple and profound. It is a moving story, full of heart, laced through with wry wit. I loved Harold and Maureen and their separate journeys. It felt like a celebration of being alive, being human. Beautiful!” (Niamh Cusack)

“Life-affirming delight. A comic pleasure.” (Woman and Home)

“A tender, funny debut about second chances and regained love as a man takes to the road on an unusual quest.” (Marie Claire)

“The odyssey of a simple man, original, subtle and touching.” (Claire Tomalin)

“A wonderful book ... Full of sadness, hope, and ultimately love. I found it very moving.” (Esther Freud)

“Harold's unlikely pilgrimage takes him the length of the country - and into the deepest parts of himself. This beautifully written tale is by turns funny, touching, farcical and heroic. A very unusual and uplifting debut.” (Isabel Wolff)

“A delightfully original and engaging debut.” (Rebecca Frayn)

“Really enjoyable ... by turns moving, charming and very funny.” (Hugh Dennis)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (225 )
5 star
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4.3 (198 )
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4.5 (201 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Carol Napier, New Zealand 07-11-12
    Carol Napier, New Zealand 07-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
    ratings
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    43
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    "What a wonderful story!"

    So sad how 20 years of a relationship could be wasted. Secrets, unspoken words, tragedy, loneliness.

    A 65 year old man embarks on a journey (pilgrimage) to see a long lost friend who is dying of cancer. On the way, he meets ordinary yet special people who inspire him and give him hope - most of the time. He thinks about the shadows of the past and how he thinks he failed his wife, son and friend. Meanwhile, his wife is going through the same feelings while left at home. Has he left her? Will he come back?

    The narration was superb. The male narrator didn't try to imitate the female voices as some do (badly!). But you always knew who was speaking.

    Very moving and emotional. And so well written and narrated. An absolutely wonderful story!

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny Landsborough, Australia 09-17-12
    Jenny Landsborough, Australia 09-17-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    9
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    "A gentle story with lasting memories"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to be better than the print version?

    I thorughally enjoyed Jim Broadbent's performance. As a female I find it interesting to listen to the male voice of a novel.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I would have made Harold a bit stronger in the latter stage of the journey. But ultimately I was pleased with his character. I really disliked the pilgrims!


    Which character – as performed by Jim Broadbent – was your favorite?

    Harold! He was a wonderful Mrs Fry as well.


    If you could rename The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, what would you call it?

    I like the title.


    Any additional comments?

    I did find the third quarter of the book very frustrating and tedious - but I suppose that was how Harold was also feeling. I thought it was wrong of him to expect someone with cancer to wait for him given the terrible pain they are in but that could well be because of my recent experiences.

    The description of grief being like a big hole given by Reg was spot on! A book I would recomend to friends and may well buy the printed version to keep.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HDJ 08-21-12
    HDJ 08-21-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    94
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    Story
    "A Wonderful Journey"
    What made the experience of listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry the most enjoyable?

    For me, the narrator can make or break a book. In this case, the narration was perfectly matched to the story and it's characters. Jim Broadbent did an awesome job of making a superb story even better.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved it's simplicity and the bare boned honesty of it's characters.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    It's impossible to choose just one scene as a favorite though I especially liked the interactions with people Harold met along the way.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    This whole book is moving, tender and at times very funny.


    Any additional comments?

    I so enjoyed going on this journey with Harold and Maureen. It's a book I'll listen to again. I find it hard to believe this is the authors first novel. I look forward to reading future books by this amazing author.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Reykjavik, Iceland 08-20-12
    Anna Reykjavik, Iceland 08-20-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "So human"
    Where does The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best


    Which character – as performed by Jim Broadbent – was your favorite?

    All of them - he is a fantastic narrator especially for foreigners ! Harold Fry was my favorite -
    so calm all the time.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Harold Fry in the hospital


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recomend this book to everyone.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea S. Cox Melbourne, Australia 08-15-12
    Andrea S. Cox Melbourne, Australia 08-15-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    10
    1
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    "Lovely!"
    Would you listen to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry again? Why?

    Yes! Such a lovely story, poignant, clever, sad but in the end uplifting


    What other book might you compare The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to and why?

    Not sure


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Visiting Queenie


    Who was the most memorable character of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and why?

    Harold Fry


    Any additional comments?

    Very enjoyable

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mrs 11-19-13
    Mrs 11-19-13

    Earnest.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hard to find a redeeming facet"
    Would you try another book from Rachel Joyce and/or Jim Broadbent?

    No. Although one may read to help understand the human condition it is not mandatory that a tale be uncritically accepted as useful. The author's own plodding style,rather like the Harold of the title, is bereft of any grace or finesse. What a tedious, unconvincing and uninteresting account leavened by so few good points as to be amongst my worst listens ever.
    The plot is so tired..it has been used so many times before with far more panache.
    Bland stereotypes litter this book.
    The characters don't even " sit up from the page," let alone "stand."
    Leave them to die in peace!


    What could Rachel Joyce have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    For a start she could have interested the listener in the predicament of the main characters. So little succeeds in her writing to excite the imagination. Shudder. I am very glad this is over.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Jim Broadbent's work was what attracted me to the title but I now have such a different opinion. He appears to be not comfortable with this role where he needs to be bringing something of himself to the part, without directorial assistance. His own bland, whining voice in this context may have seemed appropriate. In fact it doubles the negative impact the listener gets and at no point can one get an ounce of hope from this ghastly tale.


    Any additional comments?

    The only thing listeners can keep doing is providing cogent reactions to titles so prospective readers can get near to a realistic insight into what a book may offer.
    Rewriting the plot is not helpful thank you.
    Please be frank and honest about the pace, use of language and characterisation so others have hope of gauging the suitability of the title before purchase.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorna Johannesburg, South Africa 11-05-13
    Lorna Johannesburg, South Africa 11-05-13 Member Since 2010

    I have a busy career, travel a lot and don't have much time to read, so I listen to Audio books. I love reading!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
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    "A sadly funny life story.."

    harold is a retired older gentleman, with a colourless life, with a nagging miserable marriage, unfulfilled in all areas... love, laughter, joy, excitement and he exists from day to day... Until he receives "the letter"... this changes his whole life. It has a cataclysmic impact on his life, his marriage, his friends and the spillover of people on his peripheral edges.

    Its a story of hope, that allows you to be drawn into believing and realising that it is never too late for change and that we should never give up.

    It leaves you feeling hopeful and reflective....

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paddington Sydney, Australia 10-14-13
    Paddington Sydney, Australia 10-14-13 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    "Unusual well worth a read"

    This story is a well worth a read. I was fascinated discovering what made the characters tick as the experiences of their past unfolded. Harold became an endearing character with his persistence and good heart coping with many difficulties while considering so many other people's feelings. I am glad I read it and was not put off by the title. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tracey 09-28-13
    Tracey 09-28-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    5
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    "An unexpected delight"

    A man receives a letter from an old friend who is terminally ill. He walks to the post box to send a reply, but keeps walking. He continues walking across England because he is convinced it will save his friend's life. The premise 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' is based on is so unlikely that I didn't read it for a long time, despite glowing reviews. I can't say, even now, why I changed my mind, only that I am glad I did.

    The story is so much more than a man's physical journey from one end of England to another. It is a journey through his life, through his triumphs and disappointments, his regrets and if-onlys. Along the way he meets people who help him, people who hinder him, and somewhere along the way he finds a sort of peace. I know this sounds rather fanciful and neatly-tied-with-a-bow. It isn't. It is about life being about connections and wonder and fear and laughter and a collection of memories of interconnections and opportunities missed and taken. And it's funny - laugh out loud funny in parts. Jim Broadbent is a brilliant narrator. Rightly or wrongly I pictured him as Harold, but it wasn't because he injected himself too far into the story, but rather because he sounded to me like he got Harold.

    The problem I am finding with audiobooks is that when the author uses a particularly brilliant turn of phrase, or expresses something perfectly I can't dog-ear a page and come back to it later. Rachel Joyce is a talented writer, and there were quite a few times I wished I wasn't driving (I listen to audiobooks in the car) so I could write something down. You'll just have to discover these treasures for yourself. Recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gayle 09-29-12
    Gayle 09-29-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    13
    6
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    2
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    "A Likely Wonderful Story"
    If you could sum up The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in three words, what would they be?

    Wondrous, Emotional, Charming


    What did you like best about this story?

    Harold reminds me of my grandfather who passed away some years ago. My grandfather had the same quiet, non-judgmental approach to others that Harold adapts as he meets strangers along the way, and I could imagine my grandfather in Harold's shoes--no pun intended.Like any great piece of literature, it shows us human truths and frailties in all their ugliness and beauty, through a new voice. It lets us filter our own experiences through the story. And it begs the question, would I do that if in the same situation?It has moved me more than any piece of writing for a long time. I believe that it's a story to "listen" to. Jim Broadbent is brilliant. I feel privileged to have listened.


    Which character – as performed by Jim Broadbent – was your favorite?

    All of them. He is faultless.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes! But I split it up as much as possible to savour it. About four sittings as I couldn't wait.


    Any additional comments?

    Listen to it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 35 results PREVIOUS124NEXT
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  • mr
    harrogate, United Kingdom
    5/6/12
    Overall
    "Makes for a tired dog"

    This is so far the best book i have got off audible, I buy my books here to keep me company while i walk the dog and its a testament to how good this book is that i kept finding diversions to walk just a bit further and hear a little more. The story is engaging and inspiring. One of the major plot points is predictable but when revealed is no less dramatic or heartfelt. I would add though that Jim Broadbent really adds great things to the story telling and gives the characters life.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Oliver
    London, United Kingdom
    5/31/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Start, But Slows Down"
    What made the experience of listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry the most enjoyable?

    I think Jim Broadbent's narration - tha'ts not to take anything away from the story, which is very good, but if there's a better example of casting for an audiobook, I'm yet to see it.


    What other book might you compare The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to, and why?

    This is a bit of a departure form the usual Crime & Thriller titles I usually listen to, so I couldn't accurate make a comparison.


    What does Jim Broadbent bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    He makes the character. He is Harold and Harold is him, at first I thought I might find the book a little depressing as Jim Broadbent doesn't have the most upbeat of voices, but the emotion he conveys is incredible.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Harold Fry is going for a walk. A long walk.


    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Ms
    Halifax, United Kingdom
    6/17/12
    Overall
    "Gentle but engaging"

    I really enjoyed this story. I was engaged with the narrative from the beginning, and though never thrilling or demanding, it held my attention throughout and made me look forward to my next chance to listen. The story was sometimes soothing, sometimes moving, always interesting and overall an uplifting read (I wish there were more of these!).

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    FAREHAM, United Kingdom
    4/2/12
    Overall
    "Choose it at all costs"

    I'm surprised that I'm only the second person to rate this wonderful audio book as I'm sure it's destined to become a best seller. The story is quite 'Sue Townsendesque' but none the worse for that. A profoundly moving and beautifully narrated story that now probably takes pride of place as being my favourite Audible selection so far. It's a shame I can't give it 6 stars!

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Hilary
    United Kingdom
    4/5/12
    Overall
    "Poignant and uplifting"

    I had never heard of this book, but chose it because it seemed to be about walking, something I enjoy. The book was not at all what I was expecting, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Much of the book is very poignant and sad as it reveals quiet desperation behind seemingly ordinary lives. I was immediately caught up in Howard's mission and willing him on every step of the way. The end was very satisfying, suggesting that it is never too late for redemption and hope for the future. I found it very uplifting. I would recommend this book to anyone as a very worthwhile read.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Pamela
    Oban, United Kingdom
    8/23/12
    Overall
    "A memorable book"

    One that will stay with me for a long time. Driving down the M6 fighting back the tears may not seem like a good thing, though at other times I was smiling and even laughing. A wonderful, life-enhancing book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • MISS
    Coleshill, United Kingdom
    8/19/12
    Overall
    "Wonderfully moving and unusual story"

    The reviews convinced me to try this story...and they did not let me down. A well told and beautifully narrated human story about everyday life regrets and the occasionally exceptional. Highly recommended.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Lucinda
    Stroud, United Kingdom
    8/13/12
    Overall
    "Beautifully written - Wonderfully narrated"

    Listening to Jim Broadbent narrate this brilliant book was a joy from beginning to end. Rachel Joyce takes you on a journey, which is funny, sad and awkward in equal measures. Once you have been introduced to Harold Fry you will want to go on the pilgrimage with him. It was beautifully read and Jim Broadbent was the perfect choice. This is now my number one download. Take it on a long journey....you will not want your journey to end.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Gavin
    Dunbar, United Kingdom
    8/4/12
    Overall
    "Just a joy. It will make you think about yourself"

    It starts and you just have to wonder how the book can keep you interested, how can it be interesting . Believe me it draws you in you will feel every emotion there is. It was just a beautiful book.
    I will bet that you want to make a difference after you read this

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Patricia
    London, United Kingdom
    7/13/12
    Overall
    "Exquisite - a road 'movie' with a difference."

    There is pain, love, lose, peace, sadness and also joy and laughter, but I think this book is very much like a mirror to your own life experience. I am sure if I read this book a decade ago it would be different for me but still doesn't take away from the fact that it is touchingly written and beautifully read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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