Advance reader reviews of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

A Novel

By Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2012,
    336 pages.

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There are currently 25 member reviews
for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
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  • Rita H. (Centennial, CO)


    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
    This is a truly excellent book. I thought it sounded rather an odd story when I first heard about it but was captivated by the end of the first chapter. There are so many excellent life messages in this book which Harold and his wife Maureen learn along the way. Just a brief quote as an example: "Harold was ready for surprise, whatever form it took. Such freedom was rare." I truly, truly recommend this book.
  • Nancy G. (Newton, KS)


    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
    As we enter the world of Harold Fry, we are taken down a road of self-revelation and discovery that will hold the reader in its grasp. Like the peeling of an onion, each new chapter brings us more of his story. Starting out on an unlikely journey to a dying friend, Harold tries to overcome his own personal demons in the process. Leaving behind wife and friend, we walk in deck shoes through the English countryside and towns on this unlikely quest while enduring blisters, heat and despair. The people Harold meets along the way add a richness to this story as they cause him to change his tightly controlled outlook on life. As with pilgrimages of yore, there is a revelation to be had. As the characters and past finally take focus, we find sorrow, love and redemption. This book had a profound impact on me. Harold has much to teach the reader along his pilgrimage of life and love and regrets.
  • Marjorie (Florida)


    A Pilgrimage to Discover Harold
    If anyone were to pitch the idea, that by walking in excess of 600 miles would give the hope to an ailing friend in Hospice, how many of us would have the raw courage to follow through on our initial plan? This is the pivotal question that plagues Harold as he embarks on a journey that takes him not only to his destination but into the realms of memory that have isolated himself from the outside world. Whilst he walks, he consoles his emotions and re-evaluates his position in life, and the choices he's made along the way. He's on a quest not only in an attempt to make a difference to someone he cares about but in many ways, he's taking a larger step towards self acceptance. With each step he takes, he's discovering Harold. And, I think that's the greater truth hidden inside this novel, that at some point in each of our lives, we have to flip the mirror back onto ourselves and see the 'true image' that reflects back.

    I was overcome by emotion within the ending four chapters, as I was blindsided by certain key revelations that come to the reader in the closing of the novel. I recommend any reader to prepare for the unknown as this novel pacts quite the punch across emotional lines. I enjoyed watching Harold's wife Maureen take her own journey as he took his on the road. Its their shared journey through time that will resonate with you long after you put the book down.
  • Dee H. (Greenfield, CA)


    Walking Toward Redemption...
    The lovely steady pace of this novel leaves time for musing about its themes – forgiveness, redemption and the rekindling of old love.

    When recent retiree Harold Fry receives a letter from a former co-worker telling him that she is thinking of him while in hospice with terminal cancer, he immediately writes her a letter in reply. But on his way to the post box, Harold can't bear to mail his letter, feeling it is not adequate to tell her how much her friendship means to him. So, he just keeps on walking. He telephones the hospice and asks them to tell his friend, Queenie, that he is walking to see her and that she must not die before he gets there. Never mind that he has to cross the better part of England to get there. And what about his wife, Maureen? They have been emotionally separated for a long time, and at first she is confused about what he is doing, and then alarmed. She begins to realize how much she misses him, and with the help of their neighbor, a recent widower, she follows Harold's trek to the north of England on a map and worries about him. Harold persists and meets many people who aid him and cheer him on, and undergoes a few changes of his own. To say anymore might spoil the ending, but let it be understood that I loved this book.
  • Linda M. (Three Oaks, MI)


    Harold and Maureen
    I really loved this book. It was beautiful and funny, an introspective story that says it’s never too late to discover life and love again. A letter from an old colleague set Harold Fry on an improbable quest to walk across England and save an old friend from death’s door. Every step forward was a journey into the past showing us how life had molded Harold and his long suffering wife, Maureen, into the two individuals living together but insulated from each other and the world around them. It’s an inspiring story and one that will not be forgotten for a long time.
  • Jean G. (Rockford, IL)


    Life happens
    An implausible premise of a journey on foot turns entertaining and almost believable due to the main characters' likability. Credit the author's talent for beautifully written realistic prose that gets into Harold's head and captures the essence of his thoughts so we can identify with his search for the meaning of his life. You will care what happens to him, as life (as we know it in all its failings) gets in the way of his goal. Book clubs will find much to discuss about what happens as life passes us by.
  • Jean N. (New Richmond, OH)


    Off to post a letter......
    This book really touched me. I know that I will never forget it. Although Harold didn't start out with a plan, his determination to reach his destination despite all the odds against him, the heart wrenching memories that he recalled as he walked, day after day, and the challenges that plagued him caused me to really care. I felt like I was walking with him. I couldn't stop turning the pages. I had to know what was going to become of Harold.
    It was also a story of Harold's wife, Maureen, who was waiting at home- not knowing if Harold was ever going to return. I didn't like Maureen at first, but as she recalled her past, I ended up caring about her too. I felt these were real people who were reaching a turning point in their lives- and I had to know how it was going to turn out.

    Harold was a man who was totally unlikely to make such a bold journey- his courage both in walking and in remembering was awesome.

    There were amusing parts in the book as well. Some of the characters Harold met, and the situations they got into were comical. Of course, when the media found it's way into the pilgrimage, it was bedlam.

    I'm glad I read this book. I am anxious for my friends to discover Harold Fry.
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