The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry Hardcover – 15 Mar 2012
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"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)
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. Rachel Joyce is the Specsavers National Book Awards New Writer of the Year 2012.
A tender, quietly comic, heartstopping first novel from a powerful new voice in fiction.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Am definitely going to to this book trail and read the book again - loved itPublished 3 days ago by Bre
By some strange coincidence, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the third book my reading circle has read this year about elderly men with miserable lives. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Minijax
The start was very slow and matched the pass of Harold's walk but it became more engrossing as the story unfolded.Published 27 days ago by bookworm
Very different from most books I've read. Made you reflect on your own life's decisions and looking back, how you may have changed them. Mostly a positive experience.Published 1 month ago by julia S
I can definitely see why this book is a favorite for many. Told with many intricacies, that have you mind-bent at times.
Was the journey Harold took crazy? You're damn skippy. Read more
I am about to leave home for my book group at the local library where we will review this book. Loved it! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Johnny Mac