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)
Charming, engrossing, life-like characters
No spoilers! Read it. The whole book is memorable.
I had not listened to Jim Broadent before but now I can't wait to see him in the film version of "Cloud Atlas." He was terrific!
Harold, obviously. So real, so British, so tragic and yet hopeful.
I don't feel as if I will ever forget Harold and Maureen and David and Queenie. They are part of me now.
I really liked the fact that Harold learned so much from doing something so simple for someone else.
Harold was my favorite character because he continually surprised himself during his entire journey but yet he never stopped looking at himself. He wanted to stop and it was painful but he would unconciously reach out to someone to keep him going.
I believe his accent and just that British way of sounding like nothing is shocking even when it the most outragous thing that could happen.
I think that was a great title.
I started to listen and thought I would be bored to tears but found a "diamond in the rough."
Thoughtful and heatrbreaking with true moments of joy. Well done Rachel Joyce. Beautiful story writing. Perfect character development. I fell in love with all of these people and didn't want it to end. I may have to start my own pilgrimage!
Yes. Without redundancy the author leads the reader on a journey of everyday commonalities through the honest eyes of a realistically normal guy. By illustrating perseverance the author succeeded in inspiring the reader. It just felt good to hear a feel-good story. Additionally, the narrator is about as easy to listen to as it gets.
Harold finally revealing the status of his son. And, Maureen realizing Harold's true involvement as a father.
First experience. Stellar performance.
This book will be at the top of my list of the best books I've ever read (listened to). The writing was lyrical and evocative and Jim Broadbent's narration was perfect. Since my husband and I are basically the same age as the main characters in the novel and our marriage about as long (but luckily without the silence and tragedy) I found so many parts to be particularly poignant.
Jim Broadbent, the narrator, is fantastic. His English accent adds to the story plot, which takes place in England. It's interesting to hear how UK people pronounce their words. For example, Mr. Broadbent, uses the word "mow-bile" for cell phone. I have listened to many audiobooks while traveling in my car, and Mr. Broadbent is by far the best.
Rex, the next door neighbor, is mentally pictured with Jim Broadbent's rough, slow voice of an older man.
yes, it was a great story about personal growth. It also had a really good twist that I wasn't expecting
I don't want to give anything away.
I never read or listen to anything twice, so no.
He is a WONDERFUL narrator. Really enjoyed him.
It's a perfect name.
Is it sad, yes. Is it inspirational, yes in its own way. Does it help you see things in your own life a little clearer... yes.. especially if you are married.
I loved the theme of letting go of the "stuff" we accumulate everyday in our lives. This book made me feel the freedom and pleasure derived from being unencumbered, and even gave me the urge to declutter my house! Harold's journey took so many twists and turns in so many ways - the feelings that emerged, the people he met, and the physical route from city to countryside. They were interwoven so well that I felt compelled to keep reading just as Harold needed to keep walking. One of the best reads I've had in a long time! The narrator did a great job all around using a different voice for each character to make them all really come alive. I would recommend this book to anyone. In fact, I think I'm going to buy a hard copy for my husband!
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