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)
Harold Fry is a soft and sympathetic character who learns as much about himself as others on this impulsive journey. Jim Broadbent's reading is spot on. A bit rambling and repetitive at times, but overall a good listen
LOVED this book. It absolutely nails how people who actually love each other can destroy their relationship through poor communication, not being open to each other, and not realizing when the other reaches out. That sounds pretty grim, but there is enough humor woven in that you enjoy the story and the "lessons." The specifics of the storyline fall apart a bit near the end, but the author pulls it back together.
This is a sweet, simple, and poignant story of a sad, retired man who had lost purpose in his life but rediscovers himself through his pilgimage across country to see a dying friend. The story has a slow pace, like the walker, but builds as Harold encounters interesting characters along the way. The narration by the great British actor, Jim Broadbent, is the perfect voice for the story and for Harold.
I am a working mom who loves to squeeze in listening to books while walking, doing chores or commuting.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes books about the issues common to many long term marriages. A little space sometimes, is a good thing. This book did not offend traditional values.
Even thought the ending was predictable, I was pleased that Harold found peace.
Great job. No complaints.
A nice pro-marriage book.
I found this book to be excellent, in the spirit of the highest level of literature. The story is far from predictable, and yet the characters are so predictable in ways that we can't help but see our own behavior in them. Despite the message about sometimes changing one's life despite all the obstacles, I still found watching Harold's decisions frustrating to watch. I sympathize with his sad life, retired with an unloving/unforgiving wife, and I think it's noble he decided on his walk on the spur of the moment. But his decisions are too unthinking: refusing to buy decent shoes and developing huge blisters, hooking up with people who are clearly not good, refusing to pause his walk despite terrible pain and miserable weather, etc. I know the author is intelligent and deliberately wants us to see all these contradictions in his life, but when the character's lack of self-awareness swamps the plot, I think it distracts from the author's good yet complicated message to the reader.
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.
A fun story that left me inspired to exam my journey through life and how I handled my challenges, fears and relationships.
Yes. It is the best audiobook I have heard (so far!). The story is engaging and the characters are memorable.
He is able to portray many characters, male and female, young and old, with depth and clarity. He has a beautiful voice and accent.
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.
The characters were so alive that I could really relate to them.
When his wife started cleaning out the closet and she realized how much she loves Harold.
It made me care very much about the characters and their story.
Lovely inspiring story about new beginnings.
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!
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