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 story was well-told and the characters were complex and believable, even though the adventure itself was a bit unlikely.
Harold's first breakfast away from home, alternately encouraged and heckled by the B&B guests.
I love Harold but I think Maureen is even more sympathetic, to me.
I was in tears at the end but will not say any more for fear of spoiling it.
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.
this book is up there with the best, delightful listen
the lovely writing, and the way the story flowed and made you think about life.
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.
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.
"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.
It is a long time since I enjoyed a book so much. Bravo, well done!
I was so worried about him after the followers left him and he wasn't able to keep it all together.
Harold definitely was my favourite but Jim Broadbent did an amazing job of reading this book.
O yes, it made me laugh and cry.
A very enjoyable and thought provoking book.
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.
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.
Harold walked away from a life and found his.
This book is gentle, easy to enjoy and is a good listen for anyone.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
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.
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.
Live your life fully now so you have no regrets!
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.
I didn't read the book, just listened to the audio book.
The people from long ago and the people he meets along the way.
He seemed to exemplify all of the emotions - so subtle. He made it sound easy to do what he did so well.
I laughed at some parts, but I cried at most. Really made me examine my life's experiences.
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.
intriguing soul search
Harold who tried to make amends after such a long lapse of time...
I loved his reading (and all his acting). there was an element of 'sympathique', warm, personable, that his voice lent to the character.
Journey to the Center of Harold
I trek long distances myself and the mind does interesting things, deep things surface when untethered. Good book!
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!
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