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 people and places bring back memories of my travel through England. I would not have been as iinterested if I had not been there and could picture the people and places that were discribed in the book. I am a psychologist and found the personalities familiar. It was slow at times, but not enough to put the book aside. The story was funny, sad, and inspireing. I would not recommend it to everyone, but would recommed it greatly to some people. It is not the normal that I am used to, but, a great break from the regular books I am interested in.
Maybe a little less listing of all of the many flowers and open land observed by Harold. I felt that those areas were slowing down the story
A very interesting determination of Harold's that would not be typical of his caricature.
I always want more of a book I have enjoyed! I would get a follow-up if it was available.
Worth giving it a try for the avid reader.
I've never been to England before, but the details of Harold's walk were so detailed that I could follow his journey on Google Maps. It was a great way to enjoy this book. I loved the complicated relationships, even though I guessed the big twist about an hour into the book. It still didn't ruin the moment it was revealed towards the end. I say towards the end because it wasn't really close enough for the end. Do you remember those wavy plot lines that your literature teacher drew on the chalkboard in grade school? The plot builds up slowly, slowly, slowly, until you reach the top of the mountain, then it quickly goes back down and the book ends. I have a feeling Miss Joyce never saw that wavy line, because after the big shocking twist, she continues to plod on. And on. And on. I found myself zoning out.
Overall, however, this was a great book. And for her first book, outstanding! I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
Yes - definitely
When you find out how many miles he actually walks.
Loved the English accent
The narrator is excellent. The story is funny and moving and unexpected. Very unique experience.
He has a way with character and distinguishing them. I could not choose a favorite among them. Harold was pitch perfect.
Harold and Queeny. Harold because we follow the story mostly through his eyes, and his experience of the world and Queeny because she has a great spirit.
For me, the voice has to be great, and Jim's is. The story is so tightly written with some fantastic imagery.
Harold. He's almost the only character in the story.
The convenience store girl.
The story moves a bit slow, with lots and lots of variation on the theme of all the things that went wrong in Henry's life and those of his family members. I found that I could skip whole chapters and not miss much plot.
refreshing, depressing, exhilirating
Jim broadbent is Harold Fry :-)
Queenie - she is the inspiration for the story
I have not read the print version, the narrator does a wonderful job. I felt like I was right in the story.
Harold, of course!
An excellent story of surprising depth for the simplicity of setting and relatively few characters. Harold's pilgrimage is, in many ways, the story of all of us, and that is what makes it such a compelling read.
The unexpected twists and turns and the constant wondering about the outcome! Great story line, characters I could connect with, and unexpected quiet truths.
YES! Couldn't do it because car journey wasn't long enough, but looked forward to running to the store to get 5 minutes of this story in.
A totally unexpected delight. This story is so well crafted that it constantly leaves you hanging. Rachel Joyce truly understands the art of giving the reader just information that they want to read on and discover the truth within pilgrimage. This story will be on my list of all-time favorites.
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