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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 (218 )
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4.5 (195 )
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3 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    John Sydney, Australia 09-23-12
    John Sydney, Australia 09-23-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant!"
    If you could sum up The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in three words, what would they be?

    What a book!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Harold was my favourite character and his evolution on the journey was incredible.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dutchie88 Austria 09-10-12
    Dutchie88 Austria 09-10-12 Member Since 2011

    I love reading, have since I was very little. Reading to me is fun, relaxation, acquiring knowledge and so much more. No particular preference for a genre or writer, I will read anything well written. Once gripped by somebodies style of storytelling & writing, I am likely to read everything he or she has written.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "In more ways then one: a moving story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Definitely! The story is well written, poignant and in many ways recognizable. In one way or another (whether young or old(er)), I am sure we can all relate to Harold's situation at the beginning of the book.

    It doesn't matter whether or not his decision to go on a pilgrimage is realistic or not. What matters is, he decides to do something. About his life, about his friends and, as it turns out, much more.

    Good for him! And good for all of us/you who - like Harold - dare to go for the unexpected, the nonconformistic and take our/your lives into our/your own hands!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Harold, off course. The way he starts out and slowly evolves; he grew on me more and more.


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

    I love Jim Broadbent's voice and presentation of the book. I especially like the way he gives each character his/her own voice without going overboard with accents, funny diction, etc.


    If you could take any character from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Maureen and Harold after he - or in a sense they both - finished his pilgrimage. I would love to get to know them both better after they both learned and evolved so much.


    Any additional comments?

    Really recommend it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ms Melbourne, Australia 09-05-12
    Ms Melbourne, Australia 09-05-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Charming"
    What made the experience of listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry the most enjoyable?

    This novel was beauifully read which moved graciously through a story of rememberance. Totally engaging. This novel takes you through all the emotions, one minute you are laughing and the next a tear springs to the eye.


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

    This book is similar in style to Major Pettigrews Last Stand and Mr. Rosenblum's List.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    One man's journey through his history...


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading charming books that take you on a journey just like Harold Fry's pilgrimage.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Christchurch, New Zealand 09-03-12
    Chris Christchurch, New Zealand 09-03-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "A Gradual Revelation"
    What made the experience of listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry the most enjoyable?

    I absolutely loved Jim Broadbent's narration. I thought that I might visualise him as the protagonist because he has such a distinctive voice and face, but I didn't. The story captivated and allowed me to forget who the actor/narrator was


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

    The novel was full of images. The slow revelation of the reason for Harold's pilgrimage drew me in.


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

    The warmth of being read to by an excellent narrator is one of the treats of listening to books, rather than reading them. Jim Broadbent's narration is one of the best.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shivani 08-04-14
    Shivani 08-04-14 Member Since 2012
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    2
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    "Maintain a fast pace in reading this slow book"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It is a slow paced book by itself so you need to ensure that you listen to it within a matter of a few days to keep the tempo high otherwise it will just - drag - on.
    The 45+ crowd may enjoy it more than others. The first half is better than the second half.
    It primarily is about a lot of introspection and realization by the man who is walking. The narrator is not bad but not great either.


    Would you recommend The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to your friends? Why or why not?

    Not really. Maybe if you are insomniac...


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sennia Griffith, Australia 07-30-14
    Sennia Griffith, Australia 07-30-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Lovely"

    This novel captivated me from the very beginning; I loved everything about Harold and his journey. Some parts were a bit predictable but the lasting memories of this novel are only positive.
    It was an unexpected treasure to find - I will listen to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Crawford Tiburon CA 03-28-14
    Susan Crawford Tiburon CA 03-28-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Thought provoking late in life coming of age story"
    If you could sum up The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in three words, what would they be?

    Honest, ironic, human


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

    The time Harold spends with the Eastern European doctor


    What about Jim Broadbent’s performance did you like?

    Exactly captured the tone of the story, Broadbent WAS Harold. Perfect casting.


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

    Harold because he grew in self knowledge in the story and came to understand something about human nature which was both tragic and bleak yet also ordinary and hopeful.


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommend the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melanie Australia 10-24-13
    Melanie Australia 10-24-13
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    6
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    "Quirky engaging wonderful book"
    What did you love best about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

    Great characters developed, amazing reader and absorbing story. Loved every minute of it and very sorry when it ended.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Completely unrealistic but completely believable. Makes you want to get out and do something different.


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

    His voice, accent and tone match the character and story in a way you could not imagine.


    If you could take any character from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Queenie to get the full story


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Warren Germiston, South Africa 06-19-13
    Warren Germiston, South Africa 06-19-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
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    Story
    "I found an artwork in the words"
    Where does The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I am a new comer, but most definitely amongst the top 5, so far.


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

    Silver Linings Playbook


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Where he got rid of his possessions and simplified his journey - the symbolism


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

    Harold Fry


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony Harrison, Australia 03-17-13
    Tony Harrison, Australia 03-17-13 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    7
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    Story
    "A Wonderful Revealling Journey of Harold Fry"

    This is a wonderful story of a personal journey of discovery for Harold Fry. Poor Harold initially appears terribly mundane and the story is a little slow to start. However, the slow start is deliberate. Each step of his journey we learn more and more of the personal side of Harold as he reflects on his life; of mistakes, missed opportunities, and regrets. The gradual unveiling is masterfully handled by the author, leading up to the terrible tradegy near the end. The descriptions of the countryside he passes are detailed and colourful, the characters he meets are varied, rich, and entertaining. Although we learn of a terrible tradegy near the end which puts the whole story in a completely new perspective the end note is very positive, reminding the reader of the power of resiliency. This story made me laugh and cry and made me reflect on my own life journey, of regrets, and missed opportunities, thankfully not nearly as tragic as Harold. A great listening experience

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 35 results PREVIOUS1234NEXT
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  • Marie
    Søgne, Norway
    12/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Best narration I've heard!"

    I rarely read this kind of novels, I usually stick to my fantasy/horror. But I was very curious about this one, and I don't regret a second putting a credit on it! I both laughed and cried and was actually very surprised about the end.
    I tend to listen to audiobooks while I cook, brush my teeth etc. So this time I (more than once) overcooked the dinner and brushed my teeth for 40 minutes. I must say I really loved it. Each chapter made me more intrigued about the next one. And Broadbent's narration must be mentioned, because it is absolutely brilliant! It is definitely the best narration of any audiobook I've heard.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Helen
    Brighton, United Kingdom
    10/2/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved it, loved it, loved it."

    Superbly performed by Jim Broadbent, (though I cast my own Harold as Tom Courtenay and Anne Reid as his wife) the story is funny, moving and utterly charming. A delightful way to explore Harold's character and challenge his views, opinions and beliefs. The encounter in the railway cafe with the well-dressed man was particularly touching, but Harold can't fail to touch the lives of everyone he meets.

    A book to fall in love in.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Saffy
    UK
    6/24/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a joy!"

    This was such a joy to listen to - largely due to Jim Broadbent's exceptional narration. We listened to this for my audio book group and it's the first listen that we have all loved! It is such an amazing, heartwarming story that made me laugh and cry and is just perfect for audio.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • David Pillinger
    Stroud Gloucestershire
    6/17/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Missing Postman Lives."

    This book had overtones of Mark Wallington's great work, "The Missing Postman" but turned out not to be the copy I'd feared it might be. This is a lovely story about a man walking the length of England to see his dying friend ostensibly because he believes that his pilgrimage will keep her alive, but more really because he needs to be other than he has been and can't think what else to do.
    I often listen to audiobooks whilst fishing and they fill up what are often long gaps between bites. I found myself, a middle aged man of not particularly sentimental nature, sitting by a lake with tears running down my face. Good job the lake was quiet that day or I'd be a laughing stock.
    Despite the sadness which runs through the book it has a sensible and satisfactory ending which I will not spoil here.
    Jim Broadbent's narration was faultless.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Caroline
    Sherborne, England
    6/17/12
    Overall
    "One of my better downloads!"

    What a lovely book. I relied on the reviews of others and did not regret it. Beautifully read, thought provoking. Even if the story doesn't always go as you would wish, because that is life, a thoroughly enjoyable experience, to be recommended.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Sari
    8/16/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to be better than the print version?

    The narrator was so fantastic that I was feeling like I was making the journey together with Harold! The story was good and the narrator made even more enjoyable.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The whole book was good. I can't name the best. Must say though that it was getting better the further it got.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both.


    Any additional comments?

    More books like this! Can't wait to read (= listen) Rachel Joyce's latest book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Karen Jung
    Hampshire, England
    7/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Marvelous!"
    Where does The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is rare that I listen to an audiobook in almost one sitting or cannot wait to continue when I get up in the morning. I love when this happens when I'm reading a book. It's been a long time since this happened. A very engaging story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love the way the story takes you on a journey along with the characters. You think you know what is round the corner, but it turns out to be something else. It is surprising, funny, touching and you don't want to stop listening.


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

    I love the different accents and speech patterns he gives the characters.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed out loud and cried many times.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Julie
    Westcliff, Essex, United Kingdom
    7/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I'll drive you next time Harold"
    Any additional comments?

    I was looking forward to a well written, slow and pleasant story. It was certainly well written. I didn't expect action and fast paced but when I was 5 hours in and Harold realised that he had spent a whole day walking in the wrong direction I couldn't take it anymore. At that point I really did question whether I would regret going the full journey with him and decided I didn't want to risk telling myself 'I told you so' if I carried on.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andy
    7/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Far more to this uplifting story than I imagined"
    If you could sum up The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in three words, what would they be?

    Surprising, motivational, satisfying


    What did you like best about this story?

    Like Harolds journey, the book kept moving, each chapter as rewarding as the last


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

    His quality that he delivers in everything that he does


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both, frequently


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Irene
    London, United Kingdom
    6/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "How patronizing!"

    You can tell the writer is much younger than the character. The poor man is depicted as an 80 year old! Nobody I know in their 60s behaves like this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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