Recently retired, sweet, emotionally numb Harold Fry is jolted out of his passivity by a letter from Queenie Hennessy, an old friend, who he hasn't heard from in twenty years. She has written to say she is in hospice and wanted to say goodbye. Leaving his tense, bitter wife Maureen to her chores, Harold intends a quick walk to the corner mailbox to post his reply but instead, inspired by a chance encounter, he becomes convinced he must deliver his message in person to Queenie--who is 600 miles away--because as long as he keeps walking, Harold believes that Queenie will not die. So without hiking boots, rain gear, map or cell phone, one of the most endearing characters in current fiction begins his unlikely pilgrimage across the English countryside. Along the way, strangers stir up memories--flashbacks, often painful, from when his marriage was filled with promise and then not, of his inadequacy as a father, and of his shortcomings as a husband. Ironically, his wife Maureen, shocked by her husband's sudden absence, begins to long for his presence. Is it possible for Harold and Maureen to bridge the distance between them? And will Queenie be alive to see Harold arrive at her door?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This quiet, plainspoken novel might surprise you by how engrossing it becomes. Full of the wistful sadness of missed chances—and a blossoming energy to reclaim them—it opens as Harold Fry receives a letter telling him an old friend has cancer. A placid, almost inert man, he gradually realizes this news has rocked him to his core, and his stroll to mail a sympathy letter morphs into a cross-country hike that he decides is the only way to save his friend. As Harold walks, he reflects on his life’s regrets and the flat grayness of his routine. This lovely book kept us eagerly turning pages as if we were reading an espionage thriller instead of a heartwarming and dryly funny story of seizing chances before it’s too late.
When Harold Fry, a morbidly shy, retired British brewery salesman, decides on a whim to walk the distance between his home in southern England and the hospice where his long-lost friend, Queenie Hennessey, is dying of cancer, he has no idea that his act will change his life and inspire hundreds of people. The motivation behind the trek and why he is burdened by guilt and the need to atone, are gradually revealed in this initially captivating but finally pedestrian first novel by English writer Joyce. During Harold's arduous trek, which covers 627 miles and 87 days, he uncoils the memory of his destructive rampage for which Queenie took the blame. He also acknowledges the unraveling of his marriage and his anguish about the lack of intimacy with his son. Plagued by doubt and exhaustion, he undergoes a dark night of the soul, but in the tradition of classical pilgrimages, he ultimately achieves spiritual affirmation. Joyce writes with precision about the changing landscape as Harold trudges his way across England. Early chapters of the book are beguiling, but a final revelation tests credulity, and the sentimental ending may be an overdose of what the Brits call "pudding."
Customer ReviewsSee All
The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry
This book deserves a high rating: however, either iBooks has a glitch or there is something wrong with the book transcribed for iBooks.
Be forewarned. Many last pages of chapters, including the very last page of the book are missing while the second last page of those chapters has been duplicated.
Too bad to continually loose the author's voice and thread of what is a sensitive and compassionate portrait of simple and good folk struggling with the complexity of living.
I would love the last page of the book.
The Unlikely Journey of Harold Fry
A great story. Very moving. It certainly had an effect on me.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Never has a little book moved me as much as this. So many life lessons and how we can forget who we are. It is the most moving love story of all. Everyone should read it.