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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel | [Rachel Joyce]

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

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 is a letter addressed to Harold 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 Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Why did I love this book so much? The answer to that question is as complicated as trying to explain why you love a particular person. Because that’s what this book is – an entire life encapsulated and explored through the thoughts and encounters of a man on an unexpected journey. The story slowly grows and unfolds until the full picture is before you – blooming and beautiful and completely irreplaceable. Jim Broadbent’s narration is so utterly real it breaks your heart. — Emily

Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (4120 )
5 star
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4.5 (3648 )
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-08-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    53
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    "A look at human nature"

    There is no way you can keep from liking Harold. He has faults like all of us, but he just tries so hard to do the right thing. His adventure had me thinking how I would react to the same difficult or enjoyable circumstances and his determination to make the journey is a rare thing. It was a long listen, but worth it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Richmond Hill, ON, Canada 04-03-13
    Ron Richmond Hill, ON, Canada 04-03-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    4
    4
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    "An entertaining message of strength and commitment"

    A fun story that left me inspired to exam my journey through life and how I handled my challenges, fears and relationships.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 03-24-13
    Carolyn Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada 03-24-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "Beautifully read; the best narrator I have heard."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It is the best audiobook I have heard (so far!). The story is engaging and the characters are memorable.


    What about Jim Broadbent’s performance did you like?

    He is able to portray many characters, male and female, young and old, with depth and clarity. He has a beautiful voice and accent.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a moving and beautiful story and I did not want it to end. The performance by Jim Broadbent is superb. Harold Fry's journey will stay with you long after you have finished this book. A beautiful read....you will not regret going along on Harold's journey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen S. Riggins Versailles, KY United States 03-24-13
    Karen S. Riggins Versailles, KY United States 03-24-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    90
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    "Wonderful Moving Story"
    What made the experience of listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry the most enjoyable?

    The characters were so alive that I could really relate to them.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

    When his wife started cleaning out the closet and she realized how much she loves Harold.


    Which character – as performed by Jim Broadbent – was your favorite?

    Harold Frye


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me care very much about the characters and their story.


    Any additional comments?

    Lovely inspiring story about new beginnings.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda G Napa Valley, CA 03-24-13
    Linda G Napa Valley, CA 03-24-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    7
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    "Phenomenal!"
    Any additional comments?

    The Booker Prize people were wrong not to give Rachael Joyce the award in 2012. This book is inspiring, hopeful, mindful and reminds us about second chances, redemption, and life's moments of pure serendipity. It is also a great study of memory and an intuitive look at grief. I will pick this book up again and have already recommended it to everyone who will listen. Listen to it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melody 03-22-13
    Melody 03-22-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Can't wait for it to end"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The story is overwritten in parts, the main character's actions do not even remotely fit as a him as an person - not believable and without credibility.


    What didn’t you like about Jim Broadbent’s performance?

    This was the best part about the book


    Any additional comments?

    If I could get a refund I would - this is one of the worst books I've listened to or years!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M 03-20-13
    M 03-20-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
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    Story
    "Surprising Deep and Relatable Story"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to be better than the print version?

    Not sure about this! I enjoyed the audio but may have enjoyed the book as well.


    What other book might you compare The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to and why?

    The Art of Hearing Heartbeats


    What does Jim Broadbent bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Being male, he probably interpreted Harald better than I may have reading it on my own.


    If you could take any character from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Since I feel as if I know Harald pretty well, I would want to take his wife out for dinner.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chelsea 03-19-13
    Chelsea 03-19-13

    driving = books

    ratings
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    45
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    Story
    "Not horrible"
    What would have made The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry better?

    I'm not sure. It was interesting in some part but really weird and random in others.


    What was most disappointing about Rachel Joyce’s story?

    I really wanted to enjoy it more. I finished it though and the ending is surprising which was cool.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Jim Broadbent?

    Probably.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

    Some of the walk, lol.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    School Nurse Cindy WV 03-19-13 Member Since 2015

    I've been listening to audio books for years and have been an audible subscriber for ? 10 years maybe? A long time anyway.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
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    "Pleasantly surprised"
    Would you listen to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry again? Why?

    I chose this book for my book club prior to reading it. (That is my self-imposed rule for all my selections) I was quite pleasantly surprised.

    I'd actually like to read it again prior to the meeting of my book club on 4/13 so that I can set up an actual map of Harold's trip. Perhaps I will.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked how hidden stories for each character came out and came together in the end.


    What about Jim Broadbent’s performance did you like?

    He has the perfect voice for the main character for sure.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and why?

    I was intrigued by the girl at the gas station at the beginning of the book and the fact that she showed up near the end as well. Not too many kids are willing to share in an earnest conversation with an older adult, especially one that they do not know.


    Any additional comments?

    Sad, moving, but motivational all in one!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peg Colchester, VT, United States 03-19-13
    Peg Colchester, VT, United States 03-19-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    3
    Overall
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    Story
    "Soul Medicine"
    What did you love best about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

    The characters were real, lovable, growing and interesting. The story warmed my soul and breathed gratitude into me.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

    The most memorabel moment occurred at the end of the story when Harold and Maureen believed in love again.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and why?

    Harold was most memorable because of all the changes and peaks and valleys he navigated in his heart. Martina was also quite memorable because of her utmost kindness despite her own pain.


    Any additional comments?

    This was just good medicine!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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