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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"An unmissable pilgrimage!"
I stumbled across this book and am so pleased I did. It was longlisted for the Booker and for my money should have been shortlisted. Don't be put off by the initial improbability of the plot (65-year old man decides on the spur of the moment to walk 600 miles from the south-west to Berwick on Tweed). As Harold's physical and psychological journey unfolds, he and we slowly make sense of things and learn about our own deepest motivations. It is deeply moving, funny and beautifully written and will leave you wanting to rush out and give your nearest and dearest a big hug and tell them how much you love them.
It is perfectly read by Jim Broadbent who endows all the characters with individual personalities without getting in the way of the text.
Let's all read this and get behind it - I think it should be the next Audiobook of the Year!
"Good story and brilliant narration"
The story of Harold Fry could be a little bit too saccharine and corny but Joyce manages to find a good balance in terms of black humour, sentiment and plot, although near the end of the book I feel this gets a little too bleak and a little too dark, specifically in what ultimately happens to Queenie at the end of the book. This lost the book a star in my opinion but dont let that put you off, this is well worth a listen. Plus Jim Broadbent's narration is perfect, not too 'actory', just right.
"Rather sad...and very good"
I did enjoy this book, it's very well written and beautifully read. While certainly not funny, it is wry; the humour (where there is humour) is always tinged with sadness and mainly revolves round the other pilgrims. This does bring some welcome lightness to an otherwise rather sombre read/listen. I grew to really care about some of the characters, to the point where I was anxious about them as the book wore on - this is clever writing.
I agree with another reviewer that if you were recently bereaved, or in a sad place because of another relationship/family/child-related problem, this book could be a mistake because it deals, albeit fairly gently, with some very raw emotions.
Hope and faith (not of the religious kind) are, I think, supposed to be the key features of the story and in a way they are - but on the whole, I was not uplifted by the book because it did make me feel sad for much of the time. So it's odd to say that in spite of this, maybe because of it, I did like the book very much.
"Touching in it's simplicity."
I must first say that Jim Broadbent probably made this book so enjoyable. He read with a simplicity that was perfect for the story. It was an unlikely choice for me but I was so glad to have heard it. I had no idea what to expect but there was humour, poignancy, devastating sadness and sharp observation of the human character. As is often the case it is difficult to review without revealing the end. I did feel that towards the close of the book there was something missing. Maybe I, personally, wanted a different ending. However, this is an unusual and touching tale.
A walk through grief and out the other side. Beautifully written, and perfectly read by Jim Broadbent. I was totally absorbed, profoundly touched. My favourite listen so far. But I wouldn't recommend it to the newly bereaved as there are many triggers within the story that may be difficult. On the whole an uplifting read, and delightfully funny at times, always laughing at oneself rather than at others.
"Simple story, well written and great narration"
I decided to download this book, based on other recommendations - and I was not let down. This is not a complicated plot with high octane drama. It's strength lies in being able to relate so well to the more simple challenges in life and how each character chooses to deal with them. You sometimes want to shake Harold, but he has his heart in the right place and you are with him every step of the way. Very well narrated by Jim Broadbent.
"Lost the will to live"
This book just didn't work for me I got about half way and it just becomes the same. Have spoke to others who have read and they found it to be the same
On the evidence of this book I doubt I would ever listen to anything by Rachel Joyce
Trys his best but nothing to work with
Most of them
"Promising start, disappointing end"
Harold Fry recieves a letter from and old friend and instead of posting the reply he decides to walk past the post box and delivery it by hand, despite the fact that there was 500 miles between him and Queenie and he planned to walk the route.
The story was fascinating at the start and almost believable, but got a bit silly when the "disciples" joined him, I felt they added nothing to the story. Had the story stuck to Harold, Maureen, Queenie and David I feel it would have been much better.
Jim Broadbent was a fantastic narrator, will definitely search out other books that he reads.
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