Monday, July 9, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce - Review AND Giveaway

There's been lots of buzz about Rachel Joyce's debut novel - The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Harold lives in the southern part of England. He is a quiet man, who has tried to keep a low profile in life, preferring not to draw attention to himself. He has recently retired and now stays at home with his wife Maureen, filling the days with small, mundane tasks. But, the relationship between himself and Maureen is growing increasingly fractious. One day the post arrives - with a letter from someone named Queenie Hennessey. Queenie and Harold worked together many years ago, but haven't kept in touch. Queenie is dying and has written a good bye letter to Harold. Harold feels he should send a reply, so he does and dutifully sets off to mail it straight away. Except.....when he reaches the post box, he decides to post it at the next box. And then he has an epiphany - why not deliver the letter in person? And if he can walk the 600 miles to Queenie - she won't die. And that moment marks the beginning of Harold's pilgrimage.

"Tell her Harold Fry is on his way. All she has to do is wait. Because I am going to save her, you see. I will keep walking and she must keep living."

As Harold walks, he begins to remember and recount his past, much of which he has chosen to repress.

 "It surprised him that he was remembering all this. Maybe it was the walking. Maybe you saw even more than the land when you got out of the car and used your feet."

With just the clothes he had on when he left the house, Harold is forced to step outside of his comfort zone and interact with those he encounters. Many of these people are 'stuck' as well. Harold seems to grow a little bit more with every connection and every step he takes. Harold's journey has an effect on Maureen as well - although she is not walking, she too is on a journey of self discovery.

"In waking, he freed that past that he had spent twenty years seeking to avoid, and now it chattered and played through his head with a wild energy that was its own. He no longer saw distance in terms of miles. He measured it with his remembering."

Oh, what can I say -  I absolutely loved this book! Joyce has created a marvellous character in Harold - he fairly leapt off the page for me.  I shared his sadness, urged him on when he faltered and was sitting on the edge of my chair in the final chapters. But it was Harold's (re)discovering of himself that had me alternating between tears and joy. Joyce's exploration of the human spirit is by turns heart breaking and life affirming. Harold's journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of redemption. Just an absolutely fantastic debut.

Do yourself a favour - take a walk with Harold - it's a road worth travelling. Read an excerpt of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Fans of Lori Lansens' The Wife's Tale would enjoy this book.

And thanks to the great folks at Random House, I have a copy of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to giveaway. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends July 28th.

Check out what the other bloggers on the TLC tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

52 comments:

Karen B said...

I'd love to walk with Harold~!
kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great read, I like that it's about the journey as much as the destination. Thanks for the chance! Liene @ LLucane at yahoo dot com

traveler said...

what a lovely book. Perfect. many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

This appealing book sounds ideal for summer. Thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Carl said...

What a great story. I can see this becoming a modern classic. Please enter my name for the chance to win a copy. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx
Thanks!

bermudaonion said...

It sounds like Harold is an exceptionally well written character.

lag123 said...

I would like to know more about Harold.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Myra C said...

This sounds like a great read. Thanks for the giveaway.

myra0502 at yahoo dot com

Martha Lawson said...

Sounds like an awesome read! I'd love to be entered to win this one.


mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Murphy Waggoner said...

I'm specifically drawn to "pilgrimage" books. I'd love a copy of this one, and I recommend "The Memory of Running" by Ron McLarty as another to read.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read this, thanks for the giveaway! Pam
pambartholomew(at)runbox(dot)com

Teresa said...

Harold's walk reminds me of Forrest Gump's taking up running - he sounds like a character I'd like to discover more.
tmyoung at rochester dot rr dot com

Anita Yancey said...

This book sounds interesting. I don't think I could walk that far to deliver a letter. I would love to read the book. Please enter me. Thanks!
ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

nfmgirl said...

I love this idea! I learned about this book through someone in my book club. Thanks for the giveaway!

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

Sounds great! Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews at gmail dot com

Christa @ Hooked on Books said...

This sounds like a fantastic read and I love when characters leap off the page. Although it seems like it has the potential to make me cry so I think I'll just read it at home and not out in public

rubynreba said...

Harold sounds like a great character to read about!
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm so glad to see that this was such a wonderful read for you!

Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Anonymous said...

Harold sounds like a great person to walk along with! His story must be magical and what a great giveaway.

bricksiam@yahoo.com

Maureen said...

It sounds like and amazing story.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Anonymous said...

I'd really like to try one of your recommendations and report to my book club the Runaway Readers.
Holly

slb3334 said...

This looks like a great book.

slb3334@gmail.com

Timshaun said...

This sounds like a great book.
Shaunda.Eppes at gmail dot com

Amber said...

Sounds like a charming and thought-provoking book. I'd love to win!
Thank you for the giveaway :)
hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

kroch said...

I love when character's jump off the page. Thanks for the giveaway.

Katie R.
dancehottie1621 at aol dot com

debbie said...

This sounds like an amazing book. I would love to see what happens to Harold.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Charlotte Padgett said...

Sounds like a terrific book.

McKim said...

This would be a great lazy summer weekend read.

Anonymous said...

AWESOME RELAXING SUMMER READ.

jimpat34@broadstripe.net

Diane52 said...

I'd love to join Harold on his walk.
diane Baum
esldiane@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great read!
shawnac68@hotmail.com

Daniel M said...

sounds like a good one! - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book to read.

Karen said...

I would love to read this. Thanks for the giveaway.

President(dot)peaches(at)hotmail(dot)com

alynn said...

looks like a great book-achadwick22@yahoo.com

wwe11 said...

sounds great!
erma2167@sbcglobal.net

trichie said...

sounds great

Jim said...

sounds like a great book

jim.coyne2 at verizon dot net

AEKZ2 said...

A few weeks ago I heard about this book. Ever since I've wanted to read it.
annettekz2@yahoo.com

Trisha McKee said...

Thank you for the giveaway. The books sounds awesome!

tridingermckee at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

bring on the summer reading by the pool thanks raymondw45@Aol.com

willdebbie said...

thanks ..love to read in the summer
willdebbie97 at yahoo dot com

brendaelsner said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!!

brat52101@yahoo.com

liliesrnice said...

This book sounds great, I hope I win! liliesrnice at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I'd like to have this.

Tim Moss, yupbucket@hotmail.com

Kim A said...

I hope Harold gets there in time to save Queenie. Thanks for the opportunity.
kimberley_22(at)yahoo(dot)com

Chelsea M said...

This sounds like a great book!

chelsknits@hotmail.com

susansmoaks said...

i would love to win this and i can't wait to read it
susansmoaks at gmail dot com

lknott said...

Never heard of this book. Your review and the excerpt makes you fall in the Harold world wanting more!

daveshir2005 said...

Wow this book sounds very appealing (and cute).

email/ daveshir2005@yahoo.com

purango said...

It sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway. garrettsambo@aol.com

Atreau said...

This sounds like a great book!