The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

by Rachel Joyce

Doubleday Canada | July 24, 2012 | Hardcover

4.6786 out of 5 rating. 28 Reviews
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?

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 Pages, 5.51 × 8.27 × 0.79 in

Published: July 24, 2012

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385677693

ISBN - 13: 9780385677691

Found in: Fiction

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– More About This Product –

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry

by Rachel Joyce

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 336 Pages, 5.51 × 8.27 × 0.79 in

Published: July 24, 2012

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385677693

ISBN - 13: 9780385677691

Read from the Book

1 Harold and the Letter The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday. It was an ordinary morning in mid-April that smelled of clean washing and grass cuttings. Harold Fry sat at the breakfast table, freshly shaved, in a clean shirt and tie, with a slice of toast that he wasn’t eating. He gazed beyond the kitchen window at the clipped lawn, which was spiked in the middle by Maureen’s telescopic washing line, and trapped on all three sides by the neighbors’ stockade fencing. “Harold!” called Maureen above the vacuum cleaner. “Post!” He thought he might like to go out, but the only thing to do was mow the lawn and he had done that yesterday. The vacuum tumbled into silence, and his wife appeared, looking cross, with a letter. She sat opposite Harold. Maureen was a slight woman with a cap of silver hair and a brisk walk. When they first met, nothing had pleased him more than to make her laugh. To watch her neat frame collapse into unruly happiness. “It’s for you,” she said. He didn’t know what she meant until she slid an envelope across the table, and stopped it just short of Harold’s elbow. They both looked at the letter as if they had never seen one before. It was pink. “The postmark says Berwick-upon-Tweed.” He didn’t know anyone in Berwick. He didn’t know many people anywhere. “Maybe it’s a mistake.” “I think not. They don’t get somethi
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From the Publisher

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?

About the Author

The author, Rachel Joyce, has written over twenty original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and has created major adaptations for the Classic series and Woman's Hour, as well as a TV drama adaptation for BBC2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for Best Radio Play. Joyce moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court and Cheek by Jowl; and winning a Time Out Best Actress Award and the Sony Silver. She currently lives in Gloucestershire with her family and is at work on her second novel.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com - Best 100 Books of 2012 Amazon.ca - Best 100 Books of 2012 Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize “Late last year the time came to pick 2012’s ‘new face’ for books: I read a pile of first novels and enjoyed a few, but there was only one I adored, and that was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry … 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… This book may follow a pattern set by another radio dramatist-turned-novelist, David Nicholls, whose One Day has now sold more than a million copies and been made into a successful film simply because one reader said to another ‘I love this book’ over and over again.  So I’m telling you now: I love this book.” — The Times   “The redemption Joyce offers at the end of this novel is haunting, unexpected and inspiring. She makes you want to leave your phone at home and walk out to discover things.” — The Times (UK)   “[A] moving debut.” — The Guardian (UK) "Very rarely, you come upon a novel that feels less like a book than a poignant passage of your own life, and the protagonist like an acquaintance who has gently corrected your path. . . . Rachel Joyce''s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry starts off in just this way. . . .
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Bookclub Guide

1. Harold's journey is both physical and metaphorical. He is not the only character in the novel to go on a journey and Rachel Joyce has said that writing the book was in itself a journey. What other literary journeys does this novel call to mind?

2.

Harold says he is not a religious man but his journey is called a pilgrimage and it is undoubtedly a leap of faith. How much and how consciously do you feel RJ draws on Christian tenets and/or other belief systems in the novel.



3. Harold is a man with many flaws. Despite, or perhaps because of this, do you see him as an archetypal Englishman? Or is he an Everyman?

4. When we first meet Harold and Maureen, while they share breakfast they seem in different worlds. To what extent did you see Maureen as the cause of Harold's departure?

5. The mental health of several characters is called into question in the novel. Depression, Alzheimers, addiction are all diseases that touch many of us and yet mental illness remains to a great extent taboo in our society. How is RJ using this? Do you find it effective?

6. Harold and Maureen are married but both are lonely. The couple Harold meets at Buckfast Abbey travel together but have also lost sight of what holds them together. What makes a marriage happy? How much is romantic happiness about being a pair and how much about other people and interests?

7. At the start of the book both Harold and Maureen have allowed friends to fall by the wayside. This story is all about how we all connect with one another. What makes someone a true friend and how does RJ represent friendship?

8. Regret is an emotion that plays a key part in the novel. Do you think RJ sees it as a positive or negative force?

9. Is Harold's relationship with David the inevitable result of Harold's own upbringing?

10. Rachel Joyce writes beautifully about the English countryside - but how crucial to the telling of her story is the actual landscape she describes? How would it change the novel if it was set in Scotland, perhaps, or France, or..?

11. The sea provides bookends for the novel and plays a vivid part in Harold's memories. Is this significant?

12. How does RJ use food, and the sharing of food in the novel?

13. How much are Harold's responses to his fellow pilgrims dic­tated by his past?

14. Was the ending of the novel a shock or the inevitable conclusion?

15. Who saves who in this novel?

16. Has The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry inspired you to do something out of the ordinary - take a journey? Renew contact with someone? Look at strangers with a new perspective? Do share your response with us at www.facebook.com/unlikelypilgrimageofharoldfry

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