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)
So sad how 20 years of a relationship could be wasted. Secrets, unspoken words, tragedy, loneliness.
A 65 year old man embarks on a journey (pilgrimage) to see a long lost friend who is dying of cancer. On the way, he meets ordinary yet special people who inspire him and give him hope - most of the time. He thinks about the shadows of the past and how he thinks he failed his wife, son and friend. Meanwhile, his wife is going through the same feelings while left at home. Has he left her? Will he come back?
The narration was superb. The male narrator didn't try to imitate the female voices as some do (badly!). But you always knew who was speaking.
Very moving and emotional. And so well written and narrated. An absolutely wonderful story!
I thorughally enjoyed Jim Broadbent's performance. As a female I find it interesting to listen to the male voice of a novel.
I would have made Harold a bit stronger in the latter stage of the journey. But ultimately I was pleased with his character. I really disliked the pilgrims!
Harold! He was a wonderful Mrs Fry as well.
I like the title.
I did find the third quarter of the book very frustrating and tedious - but I suppose that was how Harold was also feeling. I thought it was wrong of him to expect someone with cancer to wait for him given the terrible pain they are in but that could well be because of my recent experiences.
The description of grief being like a big hole given by Reg was spot on! A book I would recomend to friends and may well buy the printed version to keep.
For me, the narrator can make or break a book. In this case, the narration was perfectly matched to the story and it's characters. Jim Broadbent did an awesome job of making a superb story even better.
I loved it's simplicity and the bare boned honesty of it's characters.
It's impossible to choose just one scene as a favorite though I especially liked the interactions with people Harold met along the way.
This whole book is moving, tender and at times very funny.
I so enjoyed going on this journey with Harold and Maureen. It's a book I'll listen to again. I find it hard to believe this is the authors first novel. I look forward to reading future books by this amazing author.
One of the best
All of them - he is a fantastic narrator especially for foreigners ! Harold Fry was my favorite -
so calm all the time.
Harold Fry in the hospital
I highly recomend this book to everyone.
Yes! Such a lovely story, poignant, clever, sad but in the end uplifting
A man receives a letter from an old friend who is terminally ill. He walks to the post box to send a reply, but keeps walking. He continues walking across England because he is convinced it will save his friend's life. The premise 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' is based on is so unlikely that I didn't read it for a long time, despite glowing reviews. I can't say, even now, why I changed my mind, only that I am glad I did.
The story is so much more than a man's physical journey from one end of England to another. It is a journey through his life, through his triumphs and disappointments, his regrets and if-onlys. Along the way he meets people who help him, people who hinder him, and somewhere along the way he finds a sort of peace. I know this sounds rather fanciful and neatly-tied-with-a-bow. It isn't. It is about life being about connections and wonder and fear and laughter and a collection of memories of interconnections and opportunities missed and taken. And it's funny - laugh out loud funny in parts. Jim Broadbent is a brilliant narrator. Rightly or wrongly I pictured him as Harold, but it wasn't because he injected himself too far into the story, but rather because he sounded to me like he got Harold.
The problem I am finding with audiobooks is that when the author uses a particularly brilliant turn of phrase, or expresses something perfectly I can't dog-ear a page and come back to it later. Rachel Joyce is a talented writer, and there were quite a few times I wished I wasn't driving (I listen to audiobooks in the car) so I could write something down. You'll just have to discover these treasures for yourself. Recommended.
No. Although one may read to help understand the human condition it is not mandatory that a tale be uncritically accepted as useful. The author's own plodding style,rather like the Harold of the title, is bereft of any grace or finesse. What a tedious, unconvincing and uninteresting account leavened by so few good points as to be amongst my worst listens ever.
The plot is so tired..it has been used so many times before with far more panache.
Bland stereotypes litter this book.
The characters don't even " sit up from the page," let alone "stand."
Leave them to die in peace!
For a start she could have interested the listener in the predicament of the main characters. So little succeeds in her writing to excite the imagination. Shudder. I am very glad this is over.
Jim Broadbent's work was what attracted me to the title but I now have such a different opinion. He appears to be not comfortable with this role where he needs to be bringing something of himself to the part, without directorial assistance. His own bland, whining voice in this context may have seemed appropriate. In fact it doubles the negative impact the listener gets and at no point can one get an ounce of hope from this ghastly tale.
The only thing listeners can keep doing is providing cogent reactions to titles so prospective readers can get near to a realistic insight into what a book may offer.
Rewriting the plot is not helpful thank you.
Please be frank and honest about the pace, use of language and characterisation so others have hope of gauging the suitability of the title before purchase.
I have a busy career, travel a lot and don't have much time to read, so I listen to Audio books. I love reading!
harold is a retired older gentleman, with a colourless life, with a nagging miserable marriage, unfulfilled in all areas... love, laughter, joy, excitement and he exists from day to day... Until he receives "the letter"... this changes his whole life. It has a cataclysmic impact on his life, his marriage, his friends and the spillover of people on his peripheral edges.
Its a story of hope, that allows you to be drawn into believing and realising that it is never too late for change and that we should never give up.
It leaves you feeling hopeful and reflective....
This story is a well worth a read. I was fascinated discovering what made the characters tick as the experiences of their past unfolded. Harold became an endearing character with his persistence and good heart coping with many difficulties while considering so many other people's feelings. I am glad I read it and was not put off by the title. Highly recommended.
Wondrous, Emotional, Charming
Harold reminds me of my grandfather who passed away some years ago. My grandfather had the same quiet, non-judgmental approach to others that Harold adapts as he meets strangers along the way, and I could imagine my grandfather in Harold's shoes--no pun intended.Like any great piece of literature, it shows us human truths and frailties in all their ugliness and beauty, through a new voice. It lets us filter our own experiences through the story. And it begs the question, would I do that if in the same situation?It has moved me more than any piece of writing for a long time. I believe that it's a story to "listen" to. Jim Broadbent is brilliant. I feel privileged to have listened.
All of them. He is faultless.
Yes! But I split it up as much as possible to savour it. About four sittings as I couldn't wait.
Listen to it!
"Gentle but engaging"
I really enjoyed this story. I was engaged with the narrative from the beginning, and though never thrilling or demanding, it held my attention throughout and made me look forward to my next chance to listen. The story was sometimes soothing, sometimes moving, always interesting and overall an uplifting read (I wish there were more of these!).
"Choose it at all costs"
I'm surprised that I'm only the second person to rate this wonderful audio book as I'm sure it's destined to become a best seller. The story is quite 'Sue Townsendesque' but none the worse for that. A profoundly moving and beautifully narrated story that now probably takes pride of place as being my favourite Audible selection so far. It's a shame I can't give it 6 stars!
"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.
"Poignant and uplifting"
I had never heard of this book, but chose it because it seemed to be about walking, something I enjoy. The book was not at all what I was expecting, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Much of the book is very poignant and sad as it reveals quiet desperation behind seemingly ordinary lives. I was immediately caught up in Howard's mission and willing him on every step of the way. The end was very satisfying, suggesting that it is never too late for redemption and hope for the future. I found it very uplifting. I would recommend this book to anyone as a very worthwhile read.
"Makes for a tired dog"
This is so far the best book i have got off audible, I buy my books here to keep me company while i walk the dog and its a testament to how good this book is that i kept finding diversions to walk just a bit further and hear a little more. The story is engaging and inspiring. One of the major plot points is predictable but when revealed is no less dramatic or heartfelt. I would add though that Jim Broadbent really adds great things to the story telling and gives the characters life.
"Great Start, But Slows Down"
I think Jim Broadbent's narration - tha'ts not to take anything away from the story, which is very good, but if there's a better example of casting for an audiobook, I'm yet to see it.
This is a bit of a departure form the usual Crime & Thriller titles I usually listen to, so I couldn't accurate make a comparison.
He makes the character. He is Harold and Harold is him, at first I thought I might find the book a little depressing as Jim Broadbent doesn't have the most upbeat of voices, but the emotion he conveys is incredible.
Harold Fry is going for a walk. A long walk.
"Exquisite - a road 'movie' with a difference."
There is pain, love, lose, peace, sadness and also joy and laughter, but I think this book is very much like a mirror to your own life experience. I am sure if I read this book a decade ago it would be different for me but still doesn't take away from the fact that it is touchingly written and beautifully read.
"A memorable book"
One that will stay with me for a long time. Driving down the M6 fighting back the tears may not seem like a good thing, though at other times I was smiling and even laughing. A wonderful, life-enhancing book.
"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.
"I didn't get it"
I have absolute respect for the people who found this moving and life enhancing but I'm afraid I couldn't really get into the emotional swing of this book. The propect of an elderly man walking from Devon to Berwick upon Tweed to visit a dying friend was already daunting but the feeling I was embarking on a journey that slowly revealed a life filled with sadness and regret was too much. It was when I realised I was switching on this audio book while filled with a sense of gloom that I decided enough is enough.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.