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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"surprisingly engaging story"
This is one of the finest stories I've read, it engaged me, made me cry and uplifted me
Harold Fry because his determination and fragility was so superbly portrayed
I couldn't listen in a single sitting but I did look forward to hearing the next chapter
Such a moving tale, revealing the tragedy of a family and the realisation of the power of their love forgotten over the years.
"Like Harold I wasn't sure I would get to the end."
One of the joys of an audiobook is that when the going gets hard I have the narrator to keep me going. Jim Broadbent was wonderful as Harold, and if he wasn’t as convincing as the other characters it was because Rachel Joyce was not so involved with them either.
Although part of the point of the book is the great length of Harold’s journey I did feel that was overdone, and towards the end I wished he would get on with it or go home.
Having said all that, I’m glad to have heard this book, and the development of Harold’s memories, and the changes in his mental state, are delicately handled. It’s the only book I’ve come across for years that hasn’t been written as a film script, and I hope no on tries since it would completely spoil the gentle thoughtfulness of the story.
"A great listen"
I found myself crying and absorbed
Finally getting to Berwick upon Tweed
His intonation was amazing
We are able to make up for our mistakes
I fantastic listen though be careful where you listen as I found myself crying whilst driving!! Having listened to this have since read the book and recommended it for our book club.
"An interesting and gentle read"
I may listen to this again before I go walking in England. I would listen with a road atlas of Britain in front of me.
The Next Step...
"What a beautiful book!"
This is a delicate and lovely book full of insight and Jim Broadbent gives a tender and compassionate voice to it.
I have recommended this book as a well written, highly entertaining book which grips the reader from start to finish.
"I was not an enjoyable read."
It was a labored read. I found it a most difficult book to read. It seemed that I had walked every step of the way. It might have been more interesting if I hadn't know the area it was travelling through.
I don't think it would have been possible I felt that Harold fry had mental health problems. I could not re-read this book ever!
Perhaps someone less well known, with a less distinctive voice.
The fact that he ended his journey and there was a final explanation of his relationship with his wife made it less awful!
I am sorry I didn't like this book, because I wont get the time back that I wasted reading it. I really did think it must get better. I was told that it was' a page turner' and that you 'couldn't put it down'.
I must take less notice of other people's opinion about their book choices!
It's a heartwarming story that makes you think about how you live your own life
Obviously Harold, such a gentleman.
Everything. He is Harold Fry!
Made me laugh and cry. I wanted to get into my car and go look for him.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. One for the author, one for the quality and one for the narrator.
"A nice story, very well read."
Definitely the reader. Jim Broadbent read the story with passion and kindness, making every character alive. It would be great to hear more from him.
Yes, it is not a masterpiece but it is an enjoyable book with a touching story.
Harold for sure.
The first half of the book flowed very slowly, too slowly. In the first place I thought it was going to be a really boring book. The second part was definitely better. I wish the whole book was like that. But, for being her first book, Rachel Joyce did a good job.
It is up there as one of my favourite listens this year.
I can't say because it would spoil the story
This is a beautiful book, well crafted plot, gentle, absorbing and beautifully read by Jim Broadbent. My ears couldn't put it down.
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