Winner: New Writer of the Year – Specsavers National Book Awards 2012
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
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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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ms on 17-06-12

Gentle but engaging

I really enjoyed this story. I was engaged with the narrative from the beginning, and though never thrilling or demanding, it held my attention throughout and made me look forward to my next chance to listen. The story was sometimes soothing, sometimes moving, always interesting and overall an uplifting read (I wish there were more of these!).

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28 of 29 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kirstine on 11-02-15

A memorable, moving and marvellous story

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation I listened to this exceptional book. I was swept along eagerly wanting to hear how Howard’s journey to save Queenie Hennessy, would end. On impulse he embarks on a journey on foot from the South West of England to Berwick-on-Tweed in the belief that this will keep his former colleague, now suffering from terminal cancer, alive. Why he feels he needs to do this isn’t revealed until near the end. It’s a pilgrimage without a religious basis, though there are episodes that remind one of biblical stories and later parts of his journey have echoes of the Canterbury Tales when other ‘pilgrims’ join him. It is a deeply moving story that delves deep into human relationships and how resentments and misunderstandings can fester and sour a marriage. The book is steeped in melancholy, leavened by humorous episodes.

The author couldn’t have a better narrator than Jim Broadbent. As I listened to his lovely voice tinged with sadness and regret I could picture him trudging the roads North. It sounds depressing: but it isn’t. It’s an uplifting story of how an ordinary man can do something extraordinary and get redemption by his simple courage. I think it’s a marvellous book and I look forward to listening to the companion book telling the story from Queenie’s perspective.

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29 of 31 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Carol on 11-07-12

What a wonderful story!

So sad how 20 years of a relationship could be wasted. Secrets, unspoken words, tragedy, loneliness.

A 65 year old man embarks on a journey (pilgrimage) to see a long lost friend who is dying of cancer. On the way, he meets ordinary yet special people who inspire him and give him hope - most of the time. He thinks about the shadows of the past and how he thinks he failed his wife, son and friend. Meanwhile, his wife is going through the same feelings while left at home. Has he left her? Will he come back?

The narration was superb. The male narrator didn't try to imitate the female voices as some do (badly!). But you always knew who was speaking.

Very moving and emotional. And so well written and narrated. An absolutely wonderful story!

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17 of 17 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jenny on 17-09-12

A gentle story with lasting memories

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

I thorughally enjoyed Jim Broadbent's performance. As a female I find it interesting to listen to the male voice of a novel.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I would have made Harold a bit stronger in the latter stage of the journey. But ultimately I was pleased with his character. I really disliked the pilgrims!

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

Harold! He was a wonderful Mrs Fry as well.

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

I like the title.

Any additional comments?

I did find the third quarter of the book very frustrating and tedious - but I suppose that was how Harold was also feeling. I thought it was wrong of him to expect someone with cancer to wait for him given the terrible pain they are in but that could well be because of my recent experiences.

The description of grief being like a big hole given by Reg was spot on! A book I would recomend to friends and may well buy the printed version to keep.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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