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
“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)
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"Lovely gentle story, beautifully read"
I wasn't sure what to expect, but this turned out to be excellent. Very gentle story, dependent on character development rather than exciting plot twists. Harold's journey is more of an emotional one than purely physical and Jim Broadbent is the perfect narrator. I hope if they ever film this he gets the title role - I can't imagine anyone else doing it justice. The writing isn't schmaltzy - all the emotions aren't spelled out at every step, but reveal themselves without over-analysis. As with all good writing, it's 'show, don't tell'. The people he meets along the way are a mixed bag - some have their own agenda for getting involved. It's uplifting and hopeful, but not in a false, heavily manipulative way. I really enjoyed it and look forward to more of this author's work.
"The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry"
A very different but really rather lovely book which is well worth a read / listen. Obviously I am not the only person who thinks so as it has been so popular Perfectly narrated by Jim Broadbent too. He is a joy to listen to and caught exactly the right mood, I thought
"Won me right over!"
The pace was steady but didn't feel too slow. I learned to love the characters and the twist caught me out. I wanted a happy ending so much- such was the way it won me over. Warm, thoughtful and beautifully read. Well done.
"Moving and compelling!"
A fantastic story that I found moving and very difficult to tear myself away from.
A wonderful story that makes you think, laugh, hope and maybe get a little angry at times. This is not an exciting, fast paced story, but goes at the pace of Harold Fry as he walks, and kept me as enthralled as any action packed thriller. Jim Broadbent narrates it perfectly, and draws you into the character of Harold totally. Don't miss this wonderful book!
Really enjoyed this book. Got through the whole thing in a couple of sittings. Narration excellent. Thoroughly recommend.
"Moving and reflective"
Love-story, mystery, and life-commentary are all represented in this beautifully written story. Harold Fry - inoffensive, subdued and set in his ways is challenged by an unexpected letter from the past, and despite himself sets out on a mission. Walking a journey which brings him into the lives of people of the present day, and enables him to face up to his past. I am still reliving every chapter. Rachel Joyce writes with an effortless elegance, and creates wonderful characters and Jim Broadbent breathes life into each one of them.
The central character is appealing in his normality and his "common decency" in Rachel Joyce's novel. He apparently has a humdrum, somewhat stale life with his wife and their absent son, but this changes when he recieves a letter from a figure in the past. This is beautifully read by Jim Broadbent, who gives humour and compassion in equal measure to the text and the protagonist. It is very funny in parts but also hugely moving. An excellent listen!
This made such an impression on me, and since then I've been on a Pilgrimage too, with a far greater insight into the strangers I met along 'The Way' (the Camino de Santiago.) Its breadth of compassion and observation of individuals was completely unexpected and profound, and I will always have this in my library.
I couldn't think of a more perfect narrator than Jim Broadbent. A beautiful tale, beautifully read.
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