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)
The narrator brought such warmth to this beautiful story of family & friend forgiveness. I will miss continuing to go on this pilgrimage walk with Harold now that I have finished listening to his story.
I found this lovely story to be rather unassuming just as is the title character. Harold Fry embarks on a completely unexpected and surprising journey which teaches, challenges, uplifts and transforms him as well as others in his life. I highly recommend reading this gem...it may start a little slowly but continues to build in layers as it progresses adding more and more for the the reader/listener to relish and absorb. The narrator is excellent and brought this story to life beyond the pages, in the same gentle understated spirit as the author wrote it. I was truly able to visualize Harold and his journey as well as all of the other wonderful characters. I highly recommend reading this book and experiencing its charm, wit and wisdom.
This book is so well written...beautiful imagery and believable characters...poignant story about moving on...
I loved how Harold's history was given in increments from all different sources...we were piecing together until the end...and enjoying the journey..
I loved Harold and Maureen
perfect name :)
I felt this needed a little humor sprinkled in here and there. There definitely was a lesson in the story, but it was very heavy.
As unlikely as Harold's journey, this book is unexpected in where and how it goes along its journey. Thought provoking, yet largely enjoyable. A bit melancholy, overall for me to re-read it, but it's still a very well written book and the performance is first rate.
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