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The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry [Kindle Edition]

Rachel Joyce
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,561 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.



'The odyssey of a simple man, original, subtle and touching'. - Claire Tomalin


'From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn't want to leave him. Impossible to put down.' - Erica Wagner, The Times


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Review

"One of the sweetest, most delicately-written stories I've read in a long time. One man's walk along the length of England to save the life of a dying woman. Each chapter describes a different encounter along the way, with a definite nod to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Philosophical, intriguing, and profoundly moving." (Richard Madeley Foyles website)

"Uplifting, funny and delicate" (Jon Stock The Daily Telegraph)

"From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn't want to leave him. Impossible to put down" (Erica Wagner The Times)

"Deploying meticulously precise and deceptively light-as-air prose, Joyce takes Harold across the bitter wastelands of regret to the sunlit uplands of emotional redemption with a ­clarity that is at times almost unbearably moving" (Karen Robinson The Sunday 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" (Daily Telegraph)

Review

Advance praise for "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry"

"Oh, to be a pilgrim in yachting shoes and waxed cotton jacket, fueled only by a sudden burning need to save a dying friend. 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, that I might help his impossible quest succeed. Marvelous!"--Helen Simonson, author of "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand"

"The odyssey of a simple man . . . original, subtle, and touching."--Claire Tomalin, author of "Charles Dickens: A Life"

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More About the Author

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Perfect published in July 2013. She was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' in December 2012.

Joyce has also written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play.

She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
653 of 672 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming, touching and engaging story 5 Jan. 2012
By L. H. Healy TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a delightful, poignant tale of a retired couple, Harold and Maureen, living out their days in Devon, when something happens that will change their future. And it is such a small occurrence on the face of it - a letter arrives for Harold from a former colleague of his at the brewery, Queenie Hennessy. Harold writes a reply, and he sets off down the road to post it. But then he continues walking. And carries on walking, and it becomes his purpose to get to Queenie, to save her, all the hundreds of miles away up in a Hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed, on foot, in just his yachting shoes.

Beautifully understated, the story plays out so well, there is sadness, some very touching moments, and there is some very well-observed gentle humour too. For Harold, and for Maureen, there is the time and space to take stock and think about their lives together, their son David, and about the events in the past that have brought them to where they are now. Can things be different for them; can they heal the divide that has grown? The reader is not party to the full story until close to the end of the novel. So we can only guess at the reason behind Harold's determination, whatever the odds, to get to Queenie, though we know it's not romantic love.

There is hope despite the difficult times. There is some lovely prose as Harold recognises and admires the nature all around him. His journey becomes more than just one that concerns himself and Queenie; it grows to involve the people he meets on his way, such a variety, by and large he is enriched by his encounters and buoyed by them. He is taken into strangers' confidences, and realises that so many people, despite appearances, have this inner torment that they carry with them.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and emotional 25 Jan. 2013
By Macey89 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is beautiful and simple, yet at the same time it's is packed with emotion, self-doubt and heartache that's sure to hit a nerve with every reader.

It begins when Harold Fry receives a letter from an old colleague and friend informing him that she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. What starts as a trip to the nearest post-box to send a letter expressing his condolences turns into an epic journey across the country. Without a map, a change of clothes or a mobile phone Harold's walk is dependent completely on his instincts, the kindness of strangers and the strength of his belief in the fact that if he keeps on walking, Queenie will keep on living.

Harold's walk seems so simple on the outside. As he describes it, it's just putting one foot in front of the other. But as he attempts to walks from Cornwall to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Harold is forced to confront the tragedies of his past, his estrangement from his wife and growing detachment from the world.

Left behind, his wife Maureen is also battling her own demons as she struggles with feelings of repressed loss and anger. Harold's walk and the space left by his absence, prompts her own personal journey.

The bit I loved most about this book was how the two central characters somehow, against the backdrop of everything that's happened in their lives, managed to find a way to rediscover their love for each other. It's an intense and emotional read and it really drives home the fact that it's never too late to change.
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240 of 252 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overwhelming 23 Aug. 2012
By Jade66
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I glanced at a few of the reviews before buying this book, none of them do it justice and I doubt if mine will either. This is a wonderful story that entertains and disquiets in equal measure. Ostensibly it is about a man, just retired, who sets out to walk from Devon to Berwick on Tweed after receiving a letter from an old work colleague. The colleague, Queenie, is dying of cancer. Harold pens a quick reply and sets off to post it, but somehow the posting of this letter seems inadequate. He decides instead to walk the 500 odd miles to Berwick, taking us with him.

It is clear very early on that Harold's life has been a disappointment. An inability to connect with his son, (stemming from his own neglectful childhood) has driven a stake between him and his wife, Maureen, and what was once a good marriage has deteriorated into a hopeless desert of non communication.

It is during his long walk that we discover all about Harold, and Maureen, and their son David, and all about the long held grievances and misunderstandings that have culminated in their isolation and loneliness. Sometimes these memories are extremely painful and I found myself moved beyond belief at this fictional tale.

One of the 2 star reviews on this page unbelievably states "nothing much happens". Nothing could be further from the truth. Everything happens as this endearing man struggles to make sense of his life, struggles to find hope and optimism when doors have been closed resolutely in his face, and struggles to assert his humanity on an indifferent world.

This is a story about all those things we leave unsaid, of all those regrets we fight daily to forget. Wonderful writing, clear recognizable characters, a story that won't leave you, and an examination in depth of all those weird and wonderful contradictions that make us what we are.
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