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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

A Novel

by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce X
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2012, 336 pages
    Mar 2013, 368 pages

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There are currently 29 reader reviews for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
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Kathy (10/18/13)

An ordinary man's extraordinary journey
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the beautifully written story of an
ordinary man's extraordinary cross-country walk to make amends with an old
friend. During Harold's journey, I found myself wishing and praying
that Harold finds his way, in more ways than one.

This is a heart-warming tale that you will tell friends and family
they must read.
Emily (04/11/13)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
I loved this book the first time through -- the language was often eloquent, with subtle humor intertwined with profound observations on the human condition. I recommended it for my book group, so I read it again, and loved it even more. I was therefore surprised and disappointed to find that no one -- not one -- in my book group liked it; in fact, there seemed to be an element of active hostility toward it.

The main problem seemed to be getting past the unlikely premise of Harold taking off to walk without any forethought or planning -- but what a shame then to miss the sweet journey as Harold learns about himself and others he meets along the way. While this book can be read superficially as a simple tale of a man walking, I personally think there are a lot of very thought-provoking themes -- love, faith, honesty among them -- to be explored. I'm sorry the rest in my book group didn't enjoy this book, but, for myself, I'll be thinking about Harold, Maureen, and Queenie for some time to come.
Cheri (01/11/13)

Not impressed
I found it very difficult to finish reading this book solely on the fact that I was bored. There was an air of predictability throughout the whole story and at many times the events that Harold would encounter were redundant. This was a book about blister damage control caused my excessive walking. I give it a 4 out of 10.
Becky Dodd (12/30/12)

Inspiring Journey
I very much enjoyed Harold's journey. The book is well written and kept my interest throughout. The book is about the journey, not the destination. The transformation that Harold makes on this journey is heartwarming.
Rita H. (Centennial, CO) (08/06/12)

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) (08/01/12)

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) (07/31/12)

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) (07/30/12)

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.

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