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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 (3530 )
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4.2 (3139 )
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4.5 (3132 )
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1 star
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Jennifer Sader Toledo, OH USA 09-16-12
    Jennifer Sader Toledo, OH USA 09-16-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    15
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    FOLLOWING
    1
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    "A beautiful adventure"
    What made the experience of listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry the most enjoyable?

    The story was well-told and the characters were complex and believable, even though the adventure itself was a bit unlikely.


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

    Harold's first breakfast away from home, alternately encouraged and heckled by the B&B guests.


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

    I love Harold but I think Maureen is even more sympathetic, to me.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was in tears at the end but will not say any more for fear of spoiling it.


    Any additional comments?

    There are a lot of important reflections on marriage here -- it seems that Harold and his wife had to spend time apart to really see each other.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen 09-16-12
    Helen 09-16-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    10
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
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    "loved it!"
    Where does The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    this book is up there with the best, delightful listen


    What did you like best about this story?

    the lovely writing, and the way the story flowed and made you think about life.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I enjoyed the entire book, the parts with the other pilgrims slowed things down for me a bit, but once they left it was great again.


    Any additional comments?

    Althought i enjoyed the entire book and would highly recommend it, the ending was not as satisfactory as I think it could have been, would have liked a bit more there and a bit more satisfying, but overall a great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer MANCHESTER, NH, United States 09-14-12
    Amazon Customer MANCHESTER, NH, United States 09-14-12 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Aeschylls said it best"
    Any additional comments?

    "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the aweful * grace of God.
    *aweful: awe-inspiring

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Calgary, AB, Canada 09-14-12
    Carol Calgary, AB, Canada 09-14-12 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Exquisitely read by Jim Broadbent Loved the story"
    Would you listen to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry again? Why?

    It is a long time since I enjoyed a book so much. Bravo, well done!


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

    I was so worried about him after the followers left him and he wasn't able to keep it all together.


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

    Harold definitely was my favourite but Jim Broadbent did an amazing job of reading this book.


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

    O yes, it made me laugh and cry.


    Any additional comments?

    A very enjoyable and thought provoking book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi United States 09-14-12
    Kristi United States 09-14-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    28
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
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    Story
    "Gentle wonderful listen"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved just how immediately hooked I was. This is definitely not my type of book but between the narration and the wonderful story, I thought it was perfect. I loved Harold because he seemed so familiar.


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

    Harold was a dear. He was easily your grandfather, your great uncle or a senior you might remember as a child. Jim gave Harold a mind, body and soul that you wanted to follow and that made you like him.


    If you could rename The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, what would you call it?

    Harold walked away from a life and found his.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is gentle, easy to enjoy and is a good listen for anyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 09-14-12
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 09-14-12 Member Since 2012

    Enjoying one good listen after the next!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    649
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    411
    196
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    125
    9
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Regrets, Faith and Reconciliation Make Great Story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, conditionally. Loved the narrator, and most of the story, but did find it to be heavy and sad at many times. At other times, it made me laugh aloud! Making a difference in other people's lives does not require magnificence. The little things -- words of support, encouragement, messages of love make all the difference we can hope to make.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Harold -- because he was so determined to make the pilgrimage, something that was altogether unlike himself.The smart and helpful Rex was intriguing as well.


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

    Harold Fry.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Live your life fully now so you have no regrets!


    Any additional comments?

    This story is probably not well suited to everyone, but if you are open to thinking about how you have lived your own life, you will find how Harold lived his for 87 days captivating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Naomi 09-12-12
    Naomi 09-12-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    35
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
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    Story
    "This is a lesson in life."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to be better than the print version?

    I didn't read the book, just listened to the audio book.


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

    The people from long ago and the people he meets along the way.


    What about Jim Broadbent’s performance did you like?

    He seemed to exemplify all of the emotions - so subtle. He made it sound easy to do what he did so well.


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

    I laughed at some parts, but I cried at most. Really made me examine my life's experiences.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the reviews from a woman said she couldn't finish the book because there was so much thinking the past, but while that's true, I loved the way the past was woven into his motivation for doing what he was doing. Being ordinary is an extraordinary way to live.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    william 09-11-12
    william 09-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I thought it might be slow going but loved the characters and the narration was great


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan east Boothbay, ME, United States 09-11-12
    Susan east Boothbay, ME, United States 09-11-12 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "the ordinary on a quest..."
    If you could sum up The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in three words, what would they be?

    intriguing soul search


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Harold who tried to make amends after such a long lapse of time...


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

    I loved his reading (and all his acting). there was an element of 'sympathique', warm, personable, that his voice lent to the character.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Journey to the Center of Harold


    Any additional comments?

    I trek long distances myself and the mind does interesting things, deep things surface when untethered. Good book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Little One Exurban Boston, MA 09-10-12
    Little One Exurban Boston, MA 09-10-12 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    118
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Uplifting, brilliant"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    The book is tremendous. Harold is immediately endearing. Emotions are conveyed so humanly, simply, and elegantly. I hated getting out of the car after commuting!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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