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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Rachel Joyce
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,897 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $1.99
You Save: $13.01 (87%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.
 
Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.
 
Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him—allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.
 
And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.
 
A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise—and utterly irresistible—storyteller.



Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2012: Harold Fry--retired sales rep, beleaguered husband, passive observer of his own life--decides one morning to walk 600 miles across England to save an old friend. It might not work, mind you, but that's hardly the point. In playwright Rachel Joyce's pitch-perfect first novel, Harold wins us over with his classic antiheroism. Setting off on the long journey, he wears the wrong jacket, doesn't have a toothbrush, and leaves his phone at home--in short, he is wholly, endearingly unprepared. But as he travels, Harold finally has time to reflect on his failings as a husband, father, and friend, and this helps him become someone we (and, more important, his wife Maureen) can respect. After walking for a while in Harold Fry's very human shoes, you might find that your own fit a bit better. --Mia Lipman

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 "At times almost unbearably moving." Sunday Times "A brilliant and charming novel: full of comic panache yet acute and poignant." Spectator "one of the most moving, uplifting, inspiring novels I've ever read" Richard Madeley

Product Details

  • File Size: 2427 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (July 24, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0074D3CAQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,667 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
386 of 411 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Harold Fry, six months retired from his job as sales representative for a local brewery, gets a letter from Queenie, a woman he'd worked with twenty years before but hasn't seen since. She tells him that she's dying of cancer. The news upsets him for years earlier, Queenie had done him a great favor and he'd never had the chance to thank her. He sits down to write a letter to her but finds it hard to say anything without seeming . . . "limp,' is the word that comes to his mind. When he has finished the letter, he leaves the house to mail it but when he gets to the mailbox, he walks on to the next one, and then the next, and the next, and soon he's at the opposite edge of town. He stops at a convenience store to get something to eat. He tells the girl at the counter that he has a friend who has cancer and he's got a letter he's going to post to her. The girl talks about her aunt who had cancer. She says science doesn't know everything, you have to believe a person can get better. "You see, if you have faith, you can do anything."

In that moment, Harold, who's spent most of his life doing only the ordinary and comfortable at all, realizes what he must do. He's going to walking to his friend's sickbed. He knows it's not reasonable but he's convinced that as long as he keeps walking toward her, his friend will stay alive. He telephones the hospice, tells Queenie's nurse to take her a message: "Tell her Harold Fry is on his way. All she has to do is wait. . . . I am going to save her, you see. I will keep walking and she must keep living. Will you say that? . . . Tell her this time I won't let her down.
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151 of 161 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Subversive Novel May 31, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book may inspire you to go for a long walk--for 500 miles or so--like its protagonist Harold Fry did across England. You see how walking through your world five to ten miles a day for 500 miles might transform you. "Life was very different when you walked through it," realizes Harold.

Harold Fry lives invisibly and conventionally. His wife, Maureen, has become like her taste in toast: "cold and crisp". One day a letter arrives for Harold that changes their lives. The letter causes him to do something irrational and unpredictable. But as a waitress sympathetically told him in my favorite line of the book, "If we don't go mad once in a while, there's no hope." (That sounds so oddly rational that I have been contemplating what "mad" thing to do to increase the hope quotient. This may be a subversive book.)

Howard takes off on foot on a pilgrimage to see the writer of this letter. As a kind of modern CANTERBURY TALES, Howard meets many eccentric and colorful characters who cause him to see life in a new way. The pleasure of this book for me was rejoicing in Harold's transformation and the new life and self he is beginning to create. "He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others." Meanwhile his wife, Maureen, is simultaneously changing at home: "She had given herself a challenge: every day without him, she would attempt one new thing." This book chronicles the changes these two characters undergo during Harold's pilgrimage which oddly brings them closer.

The other huge pleasure of this book is the author's original and vibrant writing. Some choice examples:

* "His shirt, tie, and trousers were folded small as an apology on a faded blue velvet chair.
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96 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit slow at first, but ultimately rewarding July 26, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I selected "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" to read and review because I loved "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand," a book to which it was compared in the publisher's preview. And while I prefer "Major Pettigrew" for its pacing and multicultural appeal, I wholeheartedly recommend "Harold Fry." It has charms of its own.

Henry David Thoreau observed, "The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation," and I could not help but recall this quotation as I began Rachel Joyce's lovely debut novel. As the novel begins, Harold is merely existing. The reader is not given many details, but it is clear that Harold's marriage to Maureen is an empty shell, and that there are problems in his relationship with his adult son, David. Then Harold gets a farewell letter of sorts from a friend, Queenie Hennessy, and his carefully orchestrated charade of a life begins to come apart. Queenie had "done something nice" for Harold twenty years previous, and he always regretted not thanking her. Whatever this is is shrouded in mystery, and many readers will suspect a long-past affair. All these questions are a bit disconcerting, but if the reader is patient, all will be resolved.

Harold writes a "pro forma" response to Queenie's note, but as he goes out to mail it, something prevents him from putting it in the first mailbox he comes to. He passes postbox after postbox, and eventually makes an impulsive decision to walk from his hometown to Queenie's hospice, about 600 miles. Thus begins his transformation from a kind of living death to fullness of life.

Readers who are familiar with Joseph Campbell's "The Hero's Journey" will immediately recognize the motif: the hero leaves the world he knows to embark on a quest.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing
Unexpected and refreshing, I adore Harold Fry in all his naivety and overwhelming humility. I think anyone could learn something about life by giving up all of their possessions,... Read more
Published 7 hours ago by E. Weist
5.0 out of 5 stars Take the Journey along with Harold--You will be glad you did.
This book is about a simple man who is on a mission to save a friend, that he hasn't seen in years. During his journey on foot, to make a delivery to her, he discovers things... Read more
Published 12 hours ago by CAROLYN MARQUARDT
5.0 out of 5 stars Really well written
I normally have no interest in this type of book but my wife said I should read it. I am really glad I took the advice and now I recommend it to you.
Published 1 day ago by What ?
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing
This book was SO different!! It had so many messages about life and h o w we live it.
It does cause one to reflect.
Published 2 days ago by L. Gellasch
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
This is an absolutely delightful book!!
Published 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down after the first paragraph. Wise ...
Couldn't put it down after the first paragraph. Wise, dynamic story of a man's struggle between his head and his instinct. A study in courage and perserverence.
Published 2 days ago by Suzanne Sisson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
From the beginning of the story I was captivated by Harold Fry's life and later his journey.
Published 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book club read
Unlikely pilgrimage and unlikely story. Who decides to just keep walking hundreds of mile while walking to the post office? But it does make for a grand, old man adventure. Read more
Published 2 days ago by RunsInCircles
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This book makes you stop and remember the important things in your life and your relationships.
Published 3 days ago by charlotte
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
I could not put down this book and finished it in two days. I went along with Harold on this journey wanting him to succeed. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Debbie Olek
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