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)
What a book!
Harold was my favourite character and his evolution on the journey was incredible.
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.
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!
Harold, off course. The way he starts out and slowly evolves; he grew on me more and more.
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.
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.
Really recommend it!
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.
This book is similar in style to Major Pettigrews Last Stand and Mr. Rosenblum's List.
One man's journey through his history...
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading charming books that take you on a journey just like Harold Fry's pilgrimage.
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
The novel was full of images. The slow revelation of the reason for Harold's pilgrimage drew me in.
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.
Not only is Rachel Joyce's narrative a keen commentary on life, but Jim Broadbent's performance is utterly superb. I'm so glad I selected this novel and will likely listen to it again.
Man Booker short lists and long list nominees signify tears and unbearable sadness or at times pure randomness. While at the centre of the story is a heart-breaking event and the road to redemption and acceptance difficult, I would recommend this book over and over.
Near the top.
It was easy to follow the story of this man who set out on what appeared to be quite a ridiculous walk to prove a point.
I think the women in this story deserved attention - the long suffering, confused wife and the 'friend' who prompted the walk.
The various characters that Fry meets on his travels were interesting - at times almost ridiculous especially the large group he attracted. However, the encounters were unexpected and had a certain simplicity and honesty.
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.
Not really. Maybe if you are insomniac...
"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.
"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.
"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
"it had good reviews."
because this book had so many good reviews I decided to buy it. even my husband enjoyed it but I didn't like it. I found it boring to the point I fell asleep or my mind wandered. I got through 4 hours and finally had to admit defeat. the only character I found any sympathy for was a well dressed man with silver hair who couldn't make up his mind whether to buy a pair of trainers for his friend. I got to the point where I didn't care whether Harold got to Berwick on tweed before queenie died or not.
my advice - read the reviews, listen to the book then make up your own mind.
I don't generally read this type of book but I was persuaded by a friend and I'm glad I did. The idea of a retired man going out to post a letter and then walking half the length of the UK without proper footwear and clothing is enthralling and overall I enjoyed the book.
I loved the way Rachel Joyce developed the character of Harold and his wife and how their relationship throughout the years became the sub-plot. Harold is an unlikely hero but I grew to love him and urged him on his way with every sentence and every unravelled secret from his life.
It probably is a lesson in not judging people as you never, ever know what they've been through in their lives to bring them to that place.
Lovely, gentle book and I would recommend it.
"Prepare to weep."
Yes , to enjoy the detail without any distraction of trying to predict he plot.
Harold was my favourite because Jim Broadbent was so wonderful as Harold.
I could imagine him in the film version, which I sincerely hope gets made one day. The whole book was very filmic.
Couldn't stop until near the end when I was forced to stop, sit on the floor and wail!
So sad but so beautiful.
"Renewed my love of reading!"
Being a busy Mum of two., a wife, and someone that holds down two jobs I've often felt sad that I don't get the time to read anymore. Thanks to Audible, I've "read" my first book (apart from holidays!) and have absolutely LOVED this story. Poignant, funny, heart wrenchingly sad. Jim Broadbent narratoring is just THE best. Please someone make a film of this lovely book!
Still not sure about this book. Story is a bit far fetched as someone already mentioned here. Geography is not quite right and the mani character more going on 85 than 65.
Some parts are very very similar to Forrest Gump. Ans why so much swearing?
It made me quite angry and I a few times I wanted to stop but decided to finish the book and even cried at the end so I guess author's mission was accomplished in some way.
But i wouldn't listen it again.
I read this a while ago on my kindle, but was tempted by the thought of Jim Broadbent as a narrator, and also by the 'sequel' of Queenie Hennessy's story. I was NOT disappointed. I did get a little irritated by Harold's lack of backbone, as I did when I originally read it, but he is such a sweetie that I could understand, it wasn't really lack of backbone, it was just that he felt everyone had a right to be as they are!
Jim Broadbent is absolutely fabulous as the narrator, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole story, couldn't leave it and listened late into the evening, which I usually try NOT to do with audio books as my mind won't let go when I try to sleep if I listen too late.
A real delight, and left me pondering about Harold and his life long after reading it.
"One of the best stories and audiobooks available"
This is one of the best audiobooks that I've listened to from Audible
Harold, of course! Though Maureen is compelling as well
The final sections. I can't really say without giving it away.
Yes. I didn't cry or anything, but I literally stopped in my tracks, turned it off and stood, thinking about the implications of what I had just heard. Amazing book.
One of the best examples of narrative reading, coupled to one of the best books I've ever downloaded. Beautiful, wrenching and heart warming all at the same time.
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