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)
Enjoyed the narrator immensely. The characters are well developed and their stories compelling. Many ideas worth discussing in a book group. Typical of the British there are f-bombs in places but main characters are not profane.
I listen to books as a walk/run 10 miles daily. This was a lovely book. I really cannot describe all the reasons why I enjoyed it so much. There are TMTC. This is my new all time favorite.
but not concise. very wordy and trying to be a bit to clever. could have trimmed this by at least thirty percent as Stephen king says kill your babies cut slash and back
Interesting premise, but by the end, you just are glad it's over. There were too many times I wanted to smack Harold--for making the pilgrimage in the first place (take a train, for chrissake, the woman is dying), for not being even remotely prepared for such a journey--and then by turning that into a righteous thing--and for years of choosing not to understand his wife's pain and the role he has played in it. Rather than being all things to the followers he collects along the way, he should have stayed at home and taken care of business.
I'm a professional painter and love ennobling, enlightening literature
Well, the writing is brilliant, just brilliant. When Harold wakes from his first night spent outdoors the descriptions of nature are beautifully lyrical and orginal.
Of course Harold, and because his awakening is so profound and beautiful
Jim embodied Harold. Jim Broadbent is FANTASTIC!
I guess Queenie because I want to know her story
I'm recommending this book to everyone. It's beautifully and movingly written.
The reader is first rate. Harold's recollections of the past are moving and unforgettable.
Queenie ..of course. She is the hero.
Harold is simple and profound at the same time.
The authors description of queens death is beautiful.
This book seemed to drag in places, but it was not until I got to the end that I realized why so many people had given it such a positive rating.
Retired father of two with 4 grandchildren. I listen to my books while driving or flying off to somewhere. Keeps me up to date.
Yes, the pages turn and turn by themselves in an audio book and it was really light to carry along on a trip.
I was really moved when we learn about... but that would be telling, wouldn't it?
He offers the deep pathos and sense of joyful moments as well.
Yes, I rediscovered moments in my life I felt compelled to share with my wife for the first time.
I kept asking how could anyone write such a moving novel? There is a YouTube interview that helps with that.
The story was a touching one, deliberately so, and in that way, it was successful for me. The author reveals the characters and their backgrounds gradually. You think you know them; then, you learn something about the past and it changes your ideas about the characters.
Some of Harold's adventures are a little over the top, but the author's depictions of the hangers-on who join him on his adventures are a wonderful condemnation of today's society. The media comes in for its share of condemnation too. Yet it is all done gently, rather like Harold himself--a gentle, pained man who just starts walking.
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