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The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry 3

The uplifting and redemptive No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller

by Rachel Joyce
Paperback
Publication Date: 02/01/2013
5/5 Rating 3 Reviews
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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

ISBN:
9780552778091
9780552778091
Category:
Contemporary fiction
Format:
Paperback
Publication Date:
02-01-2013
Publisher:
Transworld Publishers Ltd
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Pages:
384
Dimensions (mm):
198x127x127mm
Weight:
0.26kg
Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her work has been translated into thirty-six languages.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 2012 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’ 2014.

Rachel has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl.

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Customer Reviews

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  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

    by on

    A story with many twists and turns, and layers of meaning which are gradually peeled back with each chapter. It's not until the final pages that the whole story becomes apparent.

  • moving, heart-warming and quite uplifting

    by on

    “Beyond the window, the sky was a fragile blue, almost breakable, flecked with wisps of cloud, and the treetops were bathed in warm, golden light. Their branches swung in the breeze, beckoning him forward.”
    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the first novel by actress, radio playwright and author, Rachel Joyce. Queenie Hennessy has terminal cancer. With nothing further to be done, she sends a letter from St Bernadine’s Hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed to let Harold Fry, her one-time colleague in Devon, know. Harold, an ordinary man who has always tried hard to be unobtrusive, writes a reply, but on reflection, during his walk to the post-box, deems this insufficient. Wearing yachting shoes, and without telling Maureen, his wife of forty-seven years, he sets off to walk to Berwick-upon-Tweed, a distance of more than five hundred miles, convinced that he can save Queenie by faith alone. Along the way, he encounters the cross-section of society, and is heartened by the kindness of strangers. But he also encounters his own thoughts, fears and regrets. He finds he is no longer able to stop the memories tumbling out of his brain: memories of parents unable to show love, his anxieties with his own son, David, and the events that derailed his marriage (“In walking, he unleashed the past that he had spent twenty years seeking to avoid, and now it chattered and played through his head with a wild energy that was its own.”). In his absence, Maureen, too, is plagued by doubts and misgivings. Queenie’s letter, it seems, has become a catalyst for change.
    As the story progresses, the reader becomes increasingly intrigued as to why, twenty years ago, relations between Harold and Maureen distinctly cooled, Queenie left Devon without saying goodbye and Harold has not seen his son since. Joyce’s characters are appealing and multi-dimensional: Harold is immediately likeable despite his many flaws; Maureen starts off stereotypical but reveals hidden depths. Joyce treats the reader to a wealth of beautiful descriptive prose: “…the day fought against night and light seeped into the horizon, so pale it was without colour. Birds burst into song as the distance began to emerge and the day grew more confident; the sky moved through grey, cream, peach, indigo, and into blue. A soft tongue of mist crept the length of the valley floor so that the hilltops and houses seemed to rise out of cloud. Already the moon was a wispy thing” and “Harold lay in his bed, his body so taut with listening he felt that he was more silence than boy” are but two examples.
    Similarly, she evokes feelings and mood with wonderful skill: “But sometimes he was afraid that having one son was too much to bear. He wondered if the pain of loving became diluted, the more you had?” and “He felt dulled with such apathy it was like being at the brewery again in the years following Queenie’s departure; like being an empty space inside a suit, that said words sometimes and heard them, that got in a car every day and returned home, but was no longer connected up to other people.” Her description of Maureen’s rearrangement of the wardrobe conveys a poignancy that leaves a lump in the throat. Joyce gives the reader a novel filled with humour and heartache, wit and wisdom. The illustrations by Andrew Davidson at the start of each chapter are charming and the map by John Taylor is a helpful addition. This novel is moving, heart-warming and quite uplifting and readers will look forward to the companion volume, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy.

  • Endearing!

    by on

    Harold Fry embarks on a physical and emotional journey who takes the reader with him every step of the way. One morning, that appeared like any other, Harold receives a letter from an old friend. She is dying and wrote to say good bye. Instead of posting a reply by mail Harold finds himself passing post box after post box before realising he has to give his message to her in person. Does he think by taking the additional time to hand deliver the letter he will prolong her passing, or is this atonement for his mistakes; his past decisions? Alone, with not much more than his thoughts, we learn about Harold; he has a wife, a son. Along his journey, encounters with strangers bring up the past. Is it possible that Harold is running way or does distance bring people closer? Equally heart-warming and heart-wrenching this is a tale of love, dedication and above all resilience.