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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 (259 )
5 star
 (128)
4 star
 (94)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.2 (225 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.5 (228 )
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:
  •  
    Sennia Griffith, Australia 07-30-14
    Sennia Griffith, Australia 07-30-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Performance
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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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    47
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    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
    9
    9
    Overall
    Performance
    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
  •  
    Nick 02-25-13
    Nick 02-25-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A great story"

    I am new to audio books and selected this story based on some of the positive feedback it received and was not disappointed. It is beautifully written, very well narrated and quite inspiring. It was lovely to find a simple storyline that opened the door so effortlessly into examinations of relationships and a raft of feelings including guilt, hope, regret, love and determination to name but a few. Hard not to review aspects of your life after reading this and that can only be a good thing to my mind. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr. 02-19-13
    Dr. 02-19-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    0
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    Story
    "Brilliant"

    A brilliant story, fabulously read. I loved it. A brilliant unfolding of a story all about the 'lives of quiet desperation' lead by ordinary people. The story also captures beautifully the particular eccentricities of Englishness.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mackenzie 02-04-13
    Mackenzie 02-04-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    32
    22
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Story
    "Made an old cynic weep"

    What a super novel. A great story with several stories within the main one and as they unfold, I was left inspired.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gertjan wageningen, Netherlands 01-23-13
    gertjan wageningen, Netherlands 01-23-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    15
    3
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    0
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    Story
    "Excellent! Moving and very light at the same time!"

    My wife picked this book, as I would never have picked about someone that walks out the door and keeps walking... However I was hooked in 5 minutes and needed to finish. Great characters, well written dialogs, storyline and great feeling to the overall story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Iris 01-12-13
    Iris 01-12-13

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    5
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    0
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    Story
    "Very philosophical............."
    Would you listen to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry again? Why?

    Maybe?


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

    'The Alchemist' both have that same thought provoking quality. Gives you insight into people, their hopes and dreams etc


    Have you listened to any of Jim Broadbent’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


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

    No that's a good title for it


    Any additional comments?

    Gives you food for thought, I enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Roughlee_Handled
    3/18/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "All the emotions in one book."

    Love this book, I just felt for Harold. Two months on and I still think of this book as a friend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • CCE
    Wiltshire United Kingdom
    3/7/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Surprising joy"

    Just lovely. Like Harold's pace it starts slowly but wills you along to the journey's end. I felt so sad when I'd finished.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rupert
    FREISING, Germany
    2/26/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Tedious"

    I'd hoped for something special & was disappointed. Too slow & impossible to relate to. Too much emphasis on death & not enough humour to compensate
    Listened at high speed in order to get it over with

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sandra Nelms
    2/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Simply stunning"
    Where does The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of my all time favourite books - but has to be enjoyed with its companion book the love song of queenie hennesey.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Harold - the goes from Mr Beige blend into the background to discovering himself


    What about Jim Broadbent’s performance did you like?

    How all the characters had bags of personality and sounded so different


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

    Yes definitely


    Any additional comments?

    Listen - you'll not regret it

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Heather
    2/21/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A hidden gem"

    What a beautiful book. As the pilgrimage continues, more and more is revealed of the characters lives and regrets.
    Ii was one of those books I didn't want to end.
    Highly Recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    2/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A memorable, moving and marvellous story"

    Thanks to a friend’s recommendation I listened to this exceptional book. I was swept along eagerly wanting to hear how Howard’s journey to save Queenie Hennessy, would end. On impulse he embarks on a journey on foot from the South West of England to Berwick-on-Tweed in the belief that this will keep his former colleague, now suffering from terminal cancer, alive. Why he feels he needs to do this isn’t revealed until near the end. It’s a pilgrimage without a religious basis, though there are episodes that remind one of biblical stories and later parts of his journey have echoes of the Canterbury Tales when other ‘pilgrims’ join him. It is a deeply moving story that delves deep into human relationships and how resentments and misunderstandings can fester and sour a marriage. The book is steeped in melancholy, leavened by humorous episodes.

    The author couldn’t have a better narrator than Jim Broadbent. As I listened to his lovely voice tinged with sadness and regret I could picture him trudging the roads North. It sounds depressing: but it isn’t. It’s an uplifting story of how an ordinary man can do something extraordinary and get redemption by his simple courage. I think it’s a marvellous book and I look forward to listening to the companion book telling the story from Queenie’s perspective.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    2/10/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent book"
    Where does The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very thought-provoking book, best audio book I have listened to so far


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The main character`s wife was my favourite character, I knew her story must be a complicated one.


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

    A walk to remember - the unforgettable story of Mr Harold Fry.


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of those books that will stay with me. Written brilliantly so that you buy into the characters story, which unfolds only piece by piece giving the reader time to digest the detail.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • t33lady
    1/26/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thought provoking, deeply profound book."

    Listened to this in 2 sittings, almost without a break. Gently delivered but deeply profound book, beautifully read by Jim Broadbent, I loved every word.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Katherine
    Winkleigh, United Kingdom
    1/23/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved this book"

    One of the best books I have listened to in a very long time. I loved Harold's gut and determination to go and find Queenie
    before she died.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • victoria
    1/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Touching, heartwarming and tender"

    Simply breathtaking. Narrated expertly by Jim broadbent. I wept with laughter and wept. An exceptional book of love, loss and forgiveness.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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