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The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by…
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The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry (2012)

by Rachel Joyce

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Harold Fry (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,9723951,919 (3.97)1 / 505
  1. 90
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (tangledthread)
    tangledthread: The story and the writing style are very similar.
  2. 40
    A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Electablue, MsMaryAnn)
  3. 30
    The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce (akblanchard)
  4. 31
    The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart (Alliebadger)
    Alliebadger: Both uniquely British reflections on a unique life lived.
  5. 10
    The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year by Sue Townsend (divinenanny)
    divinenanny: Another person who decides something needs to change in life and amasses a great big following without him/her wanting to.
  6. 10
    The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg (someproseandcons)
    someproseandcons: From the book's description: Uncomfortable with the fit of her life, now that she's in the middle of it, Nan gets into her car and just goes--driving across the country on back roads, following the moon; and stopping to talk to people.
  7. 00
    The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (charlie68)
    charlie68: Similar themes
  8. 00
    The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson (SylviaC)
  9. 11
    The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Brimming with quirky Britishness, these novels take on the transformative powers of doing something different. While the more humorous, satirical Uncommon Reader imagines the Queen as an increasingly sophisticated reader, the more reflective Unlikely Pilgrimage is moving and poignant.… (more)
  10. 00
    Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper (gypsysmom)
    gypsysmom: Another story of a voyage of discovery by an older person.
  11. 11
    Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: An unassuming and quiet man in retirement suddenly leaves his home. Long held secrets are slowed revealed.
  12. 00
    Hector and the Search for Happiness by François Lelord (Alliebadger)
    Alliebadger: Both interesting journeys about a search for meaning in life.
  13. 00
    Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany (tcarter)
  14. 00
    Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday (tcarter)
  15. 00
    The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce: A Novel in Four Vintages by Paul Torday (tcarter)
  16. 01
    The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (Alliebadger)
  17. 01
    The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison (ReluctantTechie)
    ReluctantTechie: Both books deal with long-term issues of grief and the protagonists both come to closure following a journey. The situations presented are unusual but the human emotions ring true.
  18. 12
    The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty (julienne_preacher, MurphyWaggoner)
    MurphyWaggoner: Both are quests of men seeking to break through a self-imposed shell of isolation to find healing and do so by setting out on a trek across country.
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English (388)  German (6)  Dutch (6)  Spanish (4)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (408)
Showing 1-5 of 388 (next | show all)
A distant friend of recently retired Harold Fry writes a letter letting him know that she is dying. So begins Harold's pilgrimage. It was a very fascinating adventure of revelation and self-discovery. ( )
  addunn3 | May 26, 2019 |
Loved this book. Someone recommended this book after I had reviewed another. Thank You! This is a wonderful book. It shows you how mistaken you could be about things and how you can right them. As an older person it made me sit down and rethink things. ( )
  MichelleGO | Apr 30, 2019 |
I liked this a lot. It reminded me of something Anne Tyler would write if she were British. Harold is a quirky sort of Everyman who learns about himself and life on his journey. It was well written and even profound at times. ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
Harold Fry is recently retired and not very happy. He and his wife, Maureen, co-habitate, but that is about it. He is a failure as a father, a husband and a son according to himself. One day he receives a letter from an old friend and co-worker who informs him she is dying of cancer in Northern England. He writes back a short note and heads off to mail it. He does not stop walking. He is suddenly walking to see Queenie and is sure she will stay alive until he arrives at the Hospice. Along the way he thinks about his past life, the mistakes he has made, and the opportunities he has missed. He begins to change emotionally and mentally. A reporter meets him and writes an article about his "Pilgrimage" and suddenly Harold is famous. Everyone wants him to visit their town, more people join his walk and become pilgrims as well. Meanwhile, Maureen is involved in a transition of her own. This story accurately depicts what happens to many couples as they age, become empty nesters and retire. The ending was very unexpected and heartwrenching. I will say when I started reading this book, I though it was one of the most depressing stories I had read in a long time, but I am glad I stuck with it. ( )
  Carlathelibrarian | Feb 5, 2019 |
I picked this up in the second hand bookshop in work, and thought it sounded like an interesting read. I also had a look at some of the reviews too...some interestingly conflicting views!

I liked it...not loved it, but I'm glad I read it and it wasn't a waste of my time. Harold and Maureen's story could be your elderly neighbours - one of love lost, stuck in a rut and regrets. Nothing is revealed until near the end when it all becomes clear, but the story of the journey is well done. I didn't find it saccharine, I found it sad and felt invested in both Maureen's and Harold's journeys. It is also a good examination of human nature, especially the other pilgrims who join the walk!

I would say it's worth a read! ( )
  peelap | Feb 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 388 (next | show all)
That marvelous note of absurdity tempers the pain that runs beneath this whole novel. Joyce has no interest in mocking Harold; she just describes his quixotic trek in a gentle, matter-of-fact voice, mile after mile. At 65, he’s never walked farther than his own driveway. He has no map, cellphone or change of clothes, and his thin yachting shoes couldn’t be less appropriate for such a journey across England. “Harold would have been the first to admit that there were elements to his plan that were not finely tuned,” Joyce writes. But when the idea of saving Queenie blooms in the fallow soil of his mind, he can’t be stopped. “I will keep walking,” he declares, “and she must keep living.”
added by danielx | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Jul 6, 2014)
 
Very rarely, you come upon a novel that feels less like a book than a poignant passage of your own life, and the protagonist like an acquaintance who has gently corrected your path. Never mind that the protagonist possesses all the realism of a painted clown and his tale the moral fibre of a fable.

Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry starts off in just this way. A rumpled retiree determines to walk 500 miles, believing his hope-filled steps will keep his dying friend alive. The premise seems quaint and predictable, but morphs gracefully into a smart, subtle, funny, painful, weirdly personal novel.
 
The unlikely but lovable hero of Rachel Joyce's remarkable debut novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, doesn't call his walk a pilgrimage. He never even calls it a hike, which would suggest planning, a map and hiking boots, all of which Harold lacks....Pilgrimage, one of the 12 novels just long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Britain's top literary award, is a gentle adventure with an emotional wallop. It's a smart, feel-good story that doesn't feel forced.
 
“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” is not just a book about lost love. It is about all the wonderful everyday things Harold discovers through the mere process of putting one foot in front of the other. “The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other,” ........The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” takes its opening epigraph from John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.” It takes the stirring spirituality of its ending from Bunyan too. In between Ms. Joyce’s book loosely parallels “The Pilgrim’s Progress” at times, but it is very much a story of present-day courage. She writes about how easily a mousy, domesticated man can get lost and how joyously he can be refound.
 
Joyce slowly reveals what he has to walk away from, and there are some surprises. His progress is measured in memories as well as miles; memories of parents who didn’t want him, and of the early days of his marriage and his only son David’s childhood. There are a few lapses in the story—events and characters that come along at convenient moments—but Joyce captures Harold’s emotions with a tidiness of words that is at times thrilling. It’s a trip worth taking.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rachel Joyceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andreas, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andreas-Hoole, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Broadbent, JimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, AndrewIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zwart, JannekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be
Come wind, come weather.
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress
Dedication
For Paul, who walks with me, and for my father,
Martin Joyce (1936-2005)
First words
The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday.
Quotations
He fell silent, and so did Martina. He felt safe with what he had confided. It had been the same with Queenie. You can say things in the car and know she had tucked them somewhere safe among her thoughts, and that she would not judge him for them, or hold it against him in years to come. He supposed that was what friendship was, and regretted all the years he had spent without it.
He had learned it was the smallness of people that filled him with wonder and tenderness, and the loneliness of that too. The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had been doing so for a long time. Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human.
He watched the squares of buttery light inside the houses, and people going about their business. He thought of how they would settle in their beds and try to sleep through their dreams. It struck him again how much he cared, and how relieved he was that they were somehow safe and warm, while he was free to keep walking. After all, it had always been this way; that he was a little apart.
If he kept looking at the things that were bigger than himself, he knew he would make it to Berwick.
You could think you were starting something afresh, when actually what you were doing was carrying on as before. He had faced his shortcomings and overcome them, and so the real business of walking was happening only now.
Last words
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Book description
Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.
Haiku summary
I'm just popping out
To post this letter, dear! Next
Stop: Berwick on Tweed ...
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0812993292, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:21 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.

» see all 9 descriptions

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