The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

Written by:
Rachel Joyce
Narrated by:
Jim Broadbent

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
July 2012
10 hours 0 minutes

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.

Advance praise for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

“When it seems almost too late, Harold Fry opens his battered heart and lets the world rush in. This funny, poignant story about an ordinary man on an extraordinary journey moved and inspired me.”—Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank
“There’s tremendous heart in this debut novel by Rachel Joyce, as she probes questions that are as simple as they are profound: Can we begin to live again, and live truly, as ourselves, even in middle age, when all seems ruined? Can we believe in hope when hope seems to have abandoned us? I found myself laughing through tears, rooting for Harold at every step of his journey. I’m still rooting for him.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

“Marvelous! I held my breath at his every blister and cramp, and felt as if by turning the pages, I might help his impossible quest succeed.”—Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
“Harold’s journey is ordinary and extraordinary; it is a journey through the self, through modern society, through time and landscape. It is a funny book, a wise book, a charming book—but never cloying. It’s a book with a  savage twist—and yet never seems manipulative. Perhaps because Harold himself is just wonderful. . . . I’m telling you now: I love this book.”—Erica Wagner, The Times (UK)
“The odyssey of a simple man . . . original, subtle and touching.”—Claire Tomalin, author of Charles Dickens: A Life
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This was a lovely book. And the narrator was just great. An unexpected and unlikely pilgrimage truly makes one examine their life, past and future. This book was well written and just a pleasure to listen to

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Lynda B

Wasn’t crazy about it

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Kristen N.

I could not love this book more. The rawness, the grief, the character development and the prose were just amazing. If you can walk away from this book unaffected by a huge scale of emotion, you’re heart is empty and I’m sorry for that.

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Cyn K.

I expected this book to be light and enjoyable without much depth, but I was right on only 2 of 3 expectations. It's surprisingly and refreshingly meaningful. Rachel Joyce's writing reminds me a bit of Fredrik Backman's work which I also love. This is the first book of hers I've read and I'm an instant fan. Looking forward to my next Joyce read.

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Margaret H.

This book is one of the most meaningful books I have ever read. The author's ability to examine the entire range of human emotions and actions is incredible. The interactions of the characters is believable and in some instances, painful in its accuracy. The narrator's delivery brings to life the author's words. Harold's Pilgrimage becomes the reader's..... Unforgettable.

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Rebekah F.

A sweet and interesting story of self discovery.

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Terrie S.

Sweet wonderful book about marriage and friendship

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Jennifer D.

A rollercoaster read... good book about a marriage that persevere through an event and finds a new normal before it’s too late. The walk and people/stories along the way are very funny at times....

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Linda M.

A touching story with many scenes from a long marriage that rang true. I think that the author went a bit over the top with the gorilla suit but otherwise a good, quiet story.

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Very thought provoking .. awesome book

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Brian J

More serious and sad then I was looking for. but well written.

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Susan Williams

This was a great story. I'm not sure how it would have translated if I had physically read it. The narrator was excellent and really brought the story to life. It was a little drawn out but I didn't mind since the narrator was awesome. Highly recommend it and it made my drive to work so enjoyable.

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Debbie Hutton

Loved it! Heart wrenching at times but always thought provoking.

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Holly Harrison

I loved listening to this audiobook!!! Harold is an old man with a heart of gold who desperately wants one last adventure to set things right with an old friend. I found the narrator was a perfect fit for this old man, even giving the hard deep breaths as he climbed the last hill. A wonderful character to connect to that reminds us not only to take advantage of the now but to not let our age dictate what we can and cannot do.

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