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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

Average Rating 4.5
( 190 )
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5 Star

(102)

4 Star

(56)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(7)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

46 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

Love, Loss, Triumph

I absolutely loved this novel - it is so emotional, poignant and deeply touching. Harold Fry is truly a lovable character that you continue to learn more about and become closer to as the story unfolds. The beautiful language used by the author is so easy to read and I ...
I absolutely loved this novel - it is so emotional, poignant and deeply touching. Harold Fry is truly a lovable character that you continue to learn more about and become closer to as the story unfolds. The beautiful language used by the author is so easy to read and I found myself going back and re-reading passages that I had to let sink in again. Joyce is truly profound in so much of this book.

I cannot recommend this novel enough - it is a story of love, loss, triumph, perseverance and so much more. It is hard for me to believe that this is a debut novel and I wish Rachel Joyce much success and hope that many readers have the privilege of enjoying this novel as much as I did.

posted by sherriey on July 24, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

While the story was interesting, there are sections with much pr

While the story was interesting, there are sections with much profanity. Please be aware of this before you buy as BN will not refund nook books.

posted by annonymous on August 6, 2012

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  • Posted August 26, 2014

    ¿Beyond the window, the sky was a fragile blue, almost breakable

    “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.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2013

    Interesting

    A bit slow but still worth reading. I got the audio book to listen to on my long commute. Enjoyable. Older people will be able to appreciate this more than those under forty five.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2013

    To careless

    Ur book is great so far!!:) i love it!! If i where anything i would b a unicorn because there is no horses but unicorns good!!!:) i love ur story sooo much!!!:) did i already say that? Im wierd sometimes...
    &hearts - ari

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    Original and unepected

    Harold makes an unexpected journey where he makes sense, as best he can, of the major events that happened in his life. Interesting, original, and unexpected.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2013

    This was a great read.  I couldn't put it down.  It was interest

    This was a great read.  I couldn't put it down.  It was interesting how Joyce weaved so much story into Harold's thoughts as he walked.  I couldn't help loving poor Harold.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    A reader's personal pilgrimage

    This was a brilliant merging of Pilgrim's Progress and Wizard of Oz. Harold is within all of us...we are on a journey to discover our greatest fears and our wildest dreams. We have a place and a purpose in life. But...after a long day of searching and holding on to our dreams, we desire the peace of home. I will read this touching travelogue again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

    Oddly touching

    This was a book club choice and not something I chose. I ended the novel deciding that I was glad that I read it. I prefer knowing little about the plot of a story and this plot is such a big part of the novel's appeal, that I would not ruin your engaging with the characters by revealing their journey.

    The writing is literary and simple at the same time. The characters are appealing and end up surprising the reader. I think it is a very good read and I recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2013

    Skip this book

    Although it came to me highly recommended, I found it very boring and a bit on the depressing side. I'd put my reading interest in something different.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2013

    Beautiful

    A beautfiful story that takes you not just on Harold's journey but takes you tripping through memories of your own past and revisiting memories of relationships both lost and intact. Touching & powerful. I feel blessed to have read this novel and am thankful for my new friend who recommended this treasure to me. Harold Fry I pray will stay with me for a very long time.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND !!!

    INTERESTING ON MANY LEVELS WITH A SURPRISE ENDING FOR ME.
    REALISTIC STUDY ON DEALING WITH TRADGEDY,EMOTION,AND EVENTS OF LIFE.
    WELL WRITTEN. GOOD READE.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Requires effort to endure

    This novel is not my favorite, and to be quite blunt felt like a chore to get through. I didn't want to quit before it was over, but I was never truly captivated. Perhaps my hopes were too high from all the good reviews. If I had it to do over again, I would pass on Harold Fry.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    What a great book.

    The book is a little slow when you start it but you truly grow to love and admire Harold. He made a difference and touched so many lives. This is a truly feel good book that makes you think about what you can do to be more positive, move more and make a difference.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2013

    The philosophical bent of this National Bestseller had me hooked

    The philosophical bent of this National Bestseller had me hooked from the start.  Harold and Maureen were NOT living the dream life of retired couples.  Harold was boarded and boarding.  Maureen complained about anything and everything, with Harold being at fault for all her disappointments. 




     When a seemingly innocuous letter came for Harold, everything began to change. An old work colleague, Queenie Hennessy, has written Harold to tell him she is dying of cancer.  Harold hasn't seen her, nor really thought about her in 20 years.  BUT, he feels the need to write her a short consoling note.  Thus the "pilgrimage" begins. In taking his letter to the mailbox, he runs into a young girl who tells a tale of "just believing".  Harold then decides that if her walks the 500 miles, to hand deliver his letter to Queenie, she will keep living.  




    During his miles and miles of walking, he meets many different people. Some want to just talk with him and give a helping hand.  Some, become nuisances in many different ways.  Through all of this, Harold thinks back on his life and gains different perspectives of it's meaning for him and Maureen.  




    I agree with all the many fans who have made this book a bestseller, and  book award nominee.  The writing style is engaging and very compelling.  Harold's perspective on his life, reads almost like a journal, with life lessons and questions intertwined. There is a great deal of sadness in this book, but many lessons learned in the backward perspective Harold attains from his very unusual walking trip.  Different, but wonderful book!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Great book!

    Enjoyed the entire journey with Mr. Fry, ups and downs. Very thought provoking... Well written and beautifully organized.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    Strange but worth the read

    Even secondary characters well developed, thought provoking and a surprise at the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    One of the most meaningful books

    All I can say is if you read one book this year make it this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2013

    Charming

    A sweet and touching story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2013

    It was a very good story

    It was a very good story with some surprises.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Recommend

    Delightful narrative about life, loss and becoming self-aware later in life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Excellent story

    I really enjoyed this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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