Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.
Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce's remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk 600 miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.
Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him - allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.
And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.
A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise - and utterly irresistible - storyteller.
©2012 Rachel Joyce (P)2012 Random House Audio
"When it seems almost too late, Harold Fry opens his battered heart and lets the world rush in. This funny, poignant story about an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey moved and inspired me." (Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank)
"There's tremendous heart in this debut novel by Rachel Joyce, as she probes questions that are as simple as they are profound: Can we begin to live again, and live truly, as ourselves, even in middle age, when all seems ruined? Can we believe in hope when hope seems to have abandoned us? I found myself laughing through tears, rooting for Harold at every step of his journey. I'm still rooting for him." (Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife)
"Marvelous! 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." (Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand)
And so will you. A friend recommended this book to me at least half a dozen times. Finally I took him up on it. So happy I did. The book is full of laughs and weaves a tapestry of life lessons with threads of beautiful stories from people of all walks of life. As Harold recognizes early on...we'd never know how much sadness is inside the very regular looking man pumping petrol next to us. Joyce is a gifted writer! Enjoy.
I mostly listen to spiritual (Eckhart Tolle) and skills enhancement books (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). I recommend all of them on here.
I really enjoyed it. It had me smiling and also made me sad and reflective in a good way.
I decided to use my time being laid up to get smarter! In 18 months I've listened to over 200 books, mostly history, literature & biography.
I'm one of those crazy book readers who underline best parts in books and now transcribe words I would be proud to have written in my iPhone notes.
Here goes ....
Unlikely Pilgrimage's word beauty
🔅He was [walking] in the world by himself and nothing could get in the way or ask him to mow the lawn.
🔅Life was very different when you walked through it.
🔅Maybe you saw even more than the land when you got out of the car and used your feet.
🔅"Father!" he said the way he did suggesting the bond between them was a whim of irony rather than blood.
🔅He was one of those people who didn't require other people in order to have a conversation.
🔅He hoped they weren't one of those couples who said in public the dangerous things they could not voice at home.
🔅For years they had been in a place where language had no significance.
Small words were exchanged and they were safe. They hovered over the surface of what could never be said because that was unfathomable and would never be bridged.
🔅The superhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that.
🔅Grief - it's like discovering a great hole in the ground. To begin with, you forget it's there and you keep falling in. After a while, it's still there but you learn to walk round it.
🔅The moon shone high and cast a trembling copy of itself over the deep water.
Excellent written story about an ordinary life that was special. When I started listening to this book I didn't think the author would be able to keep my attention. This book exceeded my expectations.
It was an emotional walk as he rediscovered himself and his relationships but no need for all the F word .... I would have given it 5 stars if it would have left out the language.
This is a slow moving book. But at the middle and end it gets pretty good. It took me about 6-8 chapters to before I really want to pick it up and finish it. This would be a hard book the recommend mainly due the slow moving beginning.
I loved the premise of the story, but was disappointed in some of the unnecessary language--F word and a few sexually graphic lines. They were so unnecessary and the theme of the story was wonderful. I rarely choose modern literature for this very reason. It not only adds nothing to the story, it detracts from it.
it was a very beautiful book. i liked the author's writing. i cried. a very beautiful story about human life, how we should find our place in this world and mistakes that we do as we are walking through life
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