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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

A Novel
Joyce, Rachel (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry


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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.
Authors: Joyce, Rachel
Title: The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry
a novel
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, c2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 320 p. :,map ;,22 cm
Summary: 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.
ISBN: 0812993292
9780812993295
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A very enjoyable read. Very skillfully written, with a compelling narrative and a mystery or two that come together in the end. Quite an emotive read as well. Joyce is deft at delightful turns of phrase and often clever and dense expression that at times requires one to slow down or even reread a passage. The book is full of metaphor, some apt and sometimes obscure double entendre and most importantly an inspiring examination of the meaning of the power of life, love and memory even when experienced by someone many would consider insignificant. Joyce knows her craft. As many point out here, the novel will best be appreciated by an older readership with some life lessons under their belt. I am looking forward to her next novel, Perfect.

Report This Mar 12, 2014
  • BTVS rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Scroll down to January 01 2013 for an excellent review and commentary by GHreads. I concur and would highly recommend this book to a mature reader with some life experience to appreciate this pilgrimage.

Report This Jan 26, 2014
  • claire1953 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book, I believe, was one of Heather's Picks and like most books she recommends, it was worth reading. The author conveys well the effects on a person after a lifetime of unresolved issues. The hero, Harold Fry, starts walking in order to save a friend who is dying of cancer but his walk is also to save himself and eventually his relationship with his wife Maureen. The book is sometimes funny, sometimes sad and quite heart-wrenching near the end. It does, however, delve into the true meaning of life and sends the message that no life is insignificant.

A delightful read! I love how a very ordinary character can go on to deliver a very unordinary story that keeps you reading and introducing you to a variety of characters who wouldn't survive in most tales of fiction. If you love a story that has an element of quirkiness, this is for you!

Report This Jan 07, 2014
  • GMMacKelvie rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The most wonderful book I've read in a while. Will mean a lot to those in retirement or pondering the point of life, those who have been in long marriages, those who hold regrets, those who love walking (esp in England!), those who enjoy the little details of life and nature. Satisfying -- gentle and yet wrenching.

Report This Dec 16, 2013
  • GLNovak rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Harold and Marion Fry are merely co-existing. He retired six months ago and is lost. In fact he has almost always been lost. A thunderbolt comes in the way of a communication from a long forgotten workmate. She is dying. Harold is flooded with memories he has buried, and on a whim decides to walk eight hundred or so miles to see her one last time. This journey is more a journey of reflection and rebirth than it is a physical one. We get wonderful descriptions of the countryside and the people he meets. We are privy to confidences he receives. What was just as interesting for me was the journey of Marion who has been left behind to wonder and wait and consider her own life and how she got where she is. This story will not appeal to everyone but is still a very good read with a bit of nudging to have you think about your own life.

Report This Nov 06, 2013
  • DL7173 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I think best appreciated by mature readers with UK background. Still uplifting, sometimes sad, but very enjoyable for most.

Report This Oct 16, 2013
  • becker rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I understand why there are such varied opinions on this book. It is a quiet story, told gently and driven completely by character, with very little in the way of action. While this book is a little gem in the hands of the right reader, it is certainly not for everyone. I can't help but wonder if it might be better appreciated by a more mature audience who have enough life experience of their own to understand the nature of Harold's journey.

Report This Aug 06, 2013
  • inthestacks rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

This novel has its share of moving and genuine passages as it explores the nature of redemption and forgiveness. However, it is so encumbered by clunky metaphors and tired clichés that it is hard to get through it without frequently groaning at its awkwardness. Whatever impact the author hoped to achieve is diminished by banal prose.

Like a thin, poorly drawn version of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

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Report This Mar 12, 2014
  • BTVS rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

BTVS thinks this title is suitable for 40 years and over

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Report This Feb 27, 2013
  • APlazek rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This quiet novel from a new author feels very reserved and British (and it is). Harold Fry receives a letter from an old co-worker who he has not spoken with in over 20 years informing hm that she has terminal cancer. Upon reading the letter Harold knows he must espond so he crafts a letter and heads out to post it, but along the way meets a girl working in a gas station and explains about the letter. The girl tellls about her aunt who had cancer and says, "You have to believe.... trusting what you don't know and going for it." Something from that conversation touches him and Harold decides he must walk to the Queenie Hennessy -- if he walks she will not die befroe he gets there. The story is mysterious and sparse yet incredibly inspiring and heartwarming. Slowly along the way the story of Harold's relationship with his wife unfolds and we learn about their son, David in bits and pieces. It is not until the end that everything comes together and it is a sad picture of how much time can be wasted with misunderstanding and hurt, yet hope remains.

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Report This Nov 29, 2013
  • BPTADiscusses rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

They believed in him. They had looked at him in his yachting shoes, and listened to what he said, and they had made a decision in their hearts and minds to ignore the evidence and to imagine something bigger and something infinitely more beautiful than the obvious.

Report This Dec 27, 2012
  • ghreads rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others. As a passerby, he was in a place where everything, not only the land, was open. People would feel free to talk, and he was free to listen. To carry a little of them as he went. He had neglected so many things that he owed this small piece of generosity to Queenie and the past.”

Report This Dec 27, 2012
  • ghreads rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“It must be the same all over England. People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside. The inhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that.”

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