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)
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.
It took awhile to warm up to this story. No heroes, just everyday people muddling through life. Fortunatly even everyday people have their moments in the sun. Poor Herold. I wasn't sure if I wanted to hug him or kick him at times. But isn't that how women feel about men in general.
Loved listening to Jim Broadbent! My favorite narrator so far!
Even though it was slightly predictable, it was just a lovely story about how we take each other for granted, treat our significant other with carelessness, and forget to forgive and love each other to the best of our abilities under each circumstance.
His ability to change characters and such animation!!
Harold Fry. Because he was so vulnerable and because of the happenings of his past, he was able to become determined and move on.
This book finally grabbed me (for a bit) after about the mid-way point but was hard to get through. The story was intriguing, but much like the character, Harold Fry, it just seemed to plod along without alot of enthusiasm. I got through it, and it was a charming story in the end, but I can't really recommend it.
Yes, this book is a cozy, thoughtful book. It entertains but also brings up points to ponder...a very perceptive author.
Harold was my favourite character because he came out of himself and displayed courage and compassion. He is a role model for people who find themselves in a rut.
If you could step out of your day to day existence and rediscover yourself.....
This is a delightful story, the narrator is superb in slipping into different characters and has all the elements of a British read. The pace is soothing but not slow. A "sit back and enjoy with tea" book.
Started devouring books at age 7 and haven't stopped since... Now I can read while I drive, do dishes, clean the house, or work in garden!
This was an amazing book. The descriptions of Harold's interactions with people along the way are by turns laugh-out-loud funny, tender, insightful, and painfully sad.
A heart-wrenching and yet joyful story of a family that lost its way and then found it again,
No, the beginning of the book is just too boring.
Harold was writing to the girl in the garage and we discovered his son had died.
I almost turned this book off but I'm so glad I didn't. The last half of the book was great, totally unexpected.
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