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Publisher's Summary

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof, or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking - to save someone else's life.

Jim Broadbent has starred in a huge range of films, from British favourites including Bridget Jones and Hot Fuzz, to Hollywood blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and the Harry Potter films. In 2001 he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Iris. Most recently he starred as Denis Thatcher opposite Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

©2012 Rachel Joyce (P)2012 Random House AudioGo

Critic Reviews

“From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn't want to leave him. Impossible to put down.” (Erica Wagner, The Times)
“Harold Fry is infuriating, hilarious and completely out of his depth, but 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. Marvellous!” (Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand)
“A magical, moving and uplifting tale about a man's journey across Britain and into his own heart.” (Deborah Moggach)
“I loved this book. I loved its purity, its brutality and unerring honesty. I don't think I have read such richly composed metaphors before. They are like shooting stars glittering across each page. I can't believe this is her first novel- I wait with bated breath for her next.” (Natascha McElhone)
“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry isn’t just a book I enjoyed reading, it’s a book I feel lucky to have read. It takes the most ordinary and unassuming of men and turns him into a hero for us all. Harold Fry faces the same questions we all do as we age, questions about the meaning of our lives, faith and love, but confronts them in a most surprising way. To go on this journey with him will not only break your heart, it might also just heal it.” (Tiffany Baker, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County)
“Late last year the time came to pick 2012’s ‘new face’ for books: I read a pile of first novels and enjoyed a few, but there was only one I adored, and that was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry… It is a funny book, a wise book, a charming book – but never cloying. It’s a book with a savage twist, - and yet never seems manipulative. Perhaps, because Harold himself is just wonderful… This book may follow a pattern set by another radio dramatist-turned-novelist, David Nicholls, whose One Day has now sold more than a million copies and been made into a successful film simply because one reader said to another ‘I love this book’ over and over again. So I’m telling you now: I love this book…From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn't want to leave him. Impossible to put down.” (Erica Wagner, The Times)
“Distinguished by remarkable confidence... Polished to perfection... Joyce's experience as a playwright shows in her ear for dialogue and eye for character diatom - even the walk-on parts stay with you as real people. She handles her material with deceptive lightness but Harold's journey towards a better version of himself is totemic. To read about him is to be moved to follow him.” (The Telegraph)
“This book is like a naive painting: simple and profound. It is a moving story, full of heart, laced through with wry wit. I loved Harold and Maureen and their separate journeys. It felt like a celebration of being alive, being human. Beautiful!” (Niamh Cusack)
“Life-affirming delight. A comic pleasure.” (Woman and Home)
“A tender, funny debut about second chances and regained love as a man takes to the road on an unusual quest.” (Marie Claire)
“The odyssey of a simple man, original, subtle and touching.” (Claire Tomalin)
“A wonderful book ... Full of sadness, hope, and ultimately love. I found it very moving.” (Esther Freud)
“Harold's unlikely pilgrimage takes him the length of the country - and into the deepest parts of himself. This beautifully written tale is by turns funny, touching, farcical and heroic. A very unusual and uplifting debut.” (Isabel Wolff)
“A delightfully original and engaging debut.” (Rebecca Frayn)
“Really enjoyable ... by turns moving, charming and very funny.” (Hugh Dennis)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Sennia
  • Griffith, Australia
  • 07-30-14

Lovely

This novel captivated me from the very beginning; I loved everything about Harold and his journey. Some parts were a bit predictable but the lasting memories of this novel are only positive.
It was an unexpected treasure to find - I will listen to it again.

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Thought provoking late in life coming of age story

If you could sum up The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry in three words, what would they be?

Honest, ironic, human

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

The time Harold spends with the Eastern European doctor

What about Jim Broadbent’s performance did you like?

Exactly captured the tone of the story, Broadbent WAS Harold. Perfect casting.

Who was the most memorable character of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and why?

Harold because he grew in self knowledge in the story and came to understand something about human nature which was both tragic and bleak yet also ordinary and hopeful.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommend the book.

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  • Story

Quirky engaging wonderful book

What did you love best about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

Great characters developed, amazing reader and absorbing story. Loved every minute of it and very sorry when it ended.

What did you like best about this story?

Completely unrealistic but completely believable. Makes you want to get out and do something different.

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

His voice, accent and tone match the character and story in a way you could not imagine.

If you could take any character from The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Queenie to get the full story

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  • Warren
  • Germiston, South Africa
  • 06-19-13

I found an artwork in the words

Where does The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I am a new comer, but most definitely amongst the top 5, so far.

What other book might you compare The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to and why?

Silver Linings Playbook

Which scene was your favorite?

Where he got rid of his possessions and simplified his journey - the symbolism

Who was the most memorable character of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and why?

Harold Fry

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A Wonderful Revealling Journey of Harold Fry

This is a wonderful story of a personal journey of discovery for Harold Fry. Poor Harold initially appears terribly mundane and the story is a little slow to start. However, the slow start is deliberate. Each step of his journey we learn more and more of the personal side of Harold as he reflects on his life; of mistakes, missed opportunities, and regrets. The gradual unveiling is masterfully handled by the author, leading up to the terrible tradegy near the end. The descriptions of the countryside he passes are detailed and colourful, the characters he meets are varied, rich, and entertaining. Although we learn of a terrible tradegy near the end which puts the whole story in a completely new perspective the end note is very positive, reminding the reader of the power of resiliency. This story made me laugh and cry and made me reflect on my own life journey, of regrets, and missed opportunities, thankfully not nearly as tragic as Harold. A great listening experience

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  • Story

A great story

I am new to audio books and selected this story based on some of the positive feedback it received and was not disappointed. It is beautifully written, very well narrated and quite inspiring. It was lovely to find a simple storyline that opened the door so effortlessly into examinations of relationships and a raft of feelings including guilt, hope, regret, love and determination to name but a few. Hard not to review aspects of your life after reading this and that can only be a good thing to my mind. Highly recommended.

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Brilliant

A brilliant story, fabulously read. I loved it. A brilliant unfolding of a story all about the 'lives of quiet desperation' lead by ordinary people. The story also captures beautifully the particular eccentricities of Englishness.

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  • Story

Made an old cynic weep

What a super novel. A great story with several stories within the main one and as they unfold, I was left inspired.

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  • gertjan
  • wageningen, Netherlands
  • 01-23-13

Excellent! Moving and very light at the same time!

My wife picked this book, as I would never have picked about someone that walks out the door and keeps walking... However I was hooked in 5 minutes and needed to finish. Great characters, well written dialogs, storyline and great feeling to the overall story.

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  • Iris
  • Lower Hutt, New Zealand
  • 01-12-13

Very philosophical.............

Would you listen to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry again? Why?

Maybe?

What other book might you compare The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to and why?

'The Alchemist' both have that same thought provoking quality. Gives you insight into people, their hopes and dreams etc

Have you listened to any of Jim Broadbent’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

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

No that's a good title for it

Any additional comments?

Gives you food for thought, I enjoyed it.

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  • lynn clough
  • 10-17-14

uplifting

Would you consider the audio edition of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to be better than the print version?

Jim Broadbent brings Harold Fry to life. This book demonstrates so many life truths. One learns so much about ones self and your fellow man/woman.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

What makes us tick..

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Brooksies
  • 09-29-14

You'll be glad if he gets to Berrick-on-Tweed

The biggest reason I downloaded this book is because it is narrated by Jim Boadbent and he did not disappoint. He has got such as wonderful warm voice that seems to envelop you. I've got mixed feelings about the book itself. I think Rachel Joyce does have some good ideas and I really liked her writing style but it is a bit long in places. Some 'twists' I could see coming from miles away, but there were a couple that did take me by surprise. There were parts that were a bit depressing but I do have to say on the whole I found it to have a positive vibe. I enjoyed this quite a lot and will definitely keep my eye out for a next book?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Audrius
  • 09-29-14

Excellent book

What did you like most about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry?

I really enjoyed this story and its main characters.

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

Harold and Maureen. And Mr Broadbent's performance is excellent.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yeap, kind of, although I coudn't have done it in one sitting due to the lack of time.

Any additional comments?

Buy this book, you won't regret it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sari
  • 08-16-14

Fantastic

Would you consider the audio edition of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to be better than the print version?

The narrator was so fantastic that I was feeling like I was making the journey together with Harold! The story was good and the narrator made even more enjoyable.<br/>

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The whole book was good. I can't name the best. Must say though that it was getting better the further it got.

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

Both.

Any additional comments?

More books like this! Can't wait to read (= listen) Rachel Joyce's latest book.<br/>

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen J
  • 07-27-14

Marvelous!

Where does The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is rare that I listen to an audiobook in almost one sitting or cannot wait to continue when I get up in the morning. I love when this happens when I'm reading a book. It's been a long time since this happened. A very engaging story.

What did you like best about this story?

I love the way the story takes you on a journey along with the characters. You think you know what is round the corner, but it turns out to be something else. It is surprising, funny, touching and you don't want to stop listening.

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

I love the different accents and speech patterns he gives the characters.

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

I laughed out loud and cried many times.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Happy customer
  • 05-08-14

Hooked

Any additional comments?

Really lovely story and brilliantly narrated. It was so good that it made me look forward to getting in my car for my daily commute just to get to listen to it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 02-16-14

Slow in the middle

Would you try another book written by Rachel Joyce or narrated by Jim Broadbent?

The book overall story is great and thought provoking, but I found it a little slow in the middle and almost gave up on it. I;m glad I didn't, the ending is really nice and worth waiting for.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mikey
  • 02-16-14

Enjoyable, a feel good story.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I found this audiobook was enjoyable for the most part, if not a little boring in places!

Any additional comments?

I would say this book was certainly worth listening to. It is nothing spectacular, but then not all books can be!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Crime Fiction Groupie
  • 01-24-14

Heart-breaking and uplifting

As this book seemed to be grouped with other quirky novels like Alex Woods or 100yo Man, I was expecting to be amused. However although there are many chuckles, it's a very different type of novel. In many ways it is desperately sad to see lives with so many missed opportunities, and such 'quiet desperation'. However, throughout there is a real sense of hope, ultimately realised. I really enjoyed the journey with Harold, and felt the reader accompanies him every step of the way. A huge call-out to Jim Broadbent for fantastic narration. This is one novel where having such a wonderful actor makes a huge difference. Very enjoyable and highly recommended performance.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Saffy
  • 06-24-13

What a joy!

This was such a joy to listen to - largely due to Jim Broadbent's exceptional narration. We listened to this for my audio book group and it's the first listen that we have all loved! It is such an amazing, heartwarming story that made me laugh and cry and is just perfect for audio.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful