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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry ~Rachel Joyce

I could not put THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY down.  I began reading this book because I needed a novel and not another self-help book and I just read it straight through.  It was as though I was on the pilgrimage with Fry and sharing each step of the way.   I finished reading it and then went back to the first page and began to read it again.

A pilgrimage is usually about doing some kind of adventure to find the center and the balance in life.  I spent a month walking the Appalachian Trail in college to think about a new major in college because I was not talented enough to continue in music.   I am reading about a pilgrimage now where a young woman walks the Pacific Crest Trail to figure out her balance after her mother’s death.   THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is about an emotional balancing/sorting which will tickle your funny bone nearly every step of the way.

The bookkeeper from the Brewery where Harold Fry worked before retiring has sent him a letter sharing that she is dying from a cancerous tumor.  Fry feels he must write to her and say he is sorry for her suffering and so pens a one sentence response, seals it in an envelope, stamps it and sets out from home to post it.  He has on his yachting shoes and a simple cotton jacket and heads out to the end of the drive and a post box.   He passes first one and then another, thus the story begins as Harold decides that he should hand deliver the note and by doing so he will keep his friend alive.

The Pilgrimage goes from the southern point of the UK to one of the most northern spots in the country, where the hospice center is located.  Step by step Harold Fry makes progress and sorts out his life and his feelings.    Maureen Fry is left at home and is at first worried and then begins a process of her own centering, sorting and changing focus – her own pilgrimage while keeping the home fires burning.

tlclogoThe book is very well written and while a gentle or walking paced read, I just had to keep turning the pages and figuring out more and more.  The second reading enabled some release of old emotions for me also; reading the novel formed a pilgrimage within me.  There was a transition that took place in the book also allowing one to figure out the focus of retirement and what to do with nearly a third of one’s life after working.    Harold Fry has no plan or map or cell phone or preparation for his quest, he just steps out and begins; he has faith.   THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is quite the book and I am certain I will read it again.  I am hoping I can persuade all of you to read it too.

Simply Marvelous

How do you keep your faith and have you taken a pilgrimage that balanced and sorted for you?

I want to thank TLC Online Book Tours for suggesting I review this book and Random House for sending me an advanced copy to read.

YouTube Interview with Rachel Joyce about book

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket!  Thank you

Related Reading:
The President’s Club
Walter’s Muse
Unfinished Business

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21 Responses to “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry ~Rachel Joyce”

  1. mj Bradley Says:

    Thanks, Trish. You make this book sound very tempting to read! I’ll put it on my “to read” list! Have a great day.

    Patricia Reply:

    I think you will enjoy it….I am having a great day as I am just back from a day at the ocean…a tad sunburned but oh so relaxed.

    Lovely read…for all of us

  2. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia – Like MJ Bradley, you’ve definitely whet my appetite and primed the pump. Thank you!

    It’s been added to the must read list.

    Patricia Reply:

    Put it on the list…read it when ready and then I think you will want to give it as a gift to someone you dearly love….
    very well done story telling.

  3. Sara Says:

    Thanks for this review. This is a perfect book for my daughter who lives in England. She would love it. After this comment, I’d heading to Amazon to order it for her.

    As usual, your review was thoughtful, well-written and easy to follow. I enjoyed it.

    Thank you, Patricia!
    Sara recently posted..The Man Room: Part TwoMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    This is quite the storyteller – writer and I think your daughter may recognize her name she was on stage and has done a lot of writing in UK of performance pieces…

    Thank you for your kind words….it was an easy book to write about because I enjoyed it so very much.

  4. Jannie Funster Says:

    You do know how to pick books, that sounds FASCINATING! I am totally going to look for it here at the library after I post this comment.

    I guess we’re all on never-ending pilgrimages. For me letting things go that are not working balances things back to fun and joy in life again. The wise ones say that’s why we’re here, for fun. And I believe it!

    Jannie Funster recently posted..Let’s Go Down To The RiverMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Nice to find you here – this book was already released in hard bound from the UK. Now in paperback and Kindle, NOOK versions…I think you would love this read…you can request it from your library and they might add it to the list. My library did, it has a 20 person hold on it!
    Bet you are enjoying the summer with that nice swim area so close by
    Patricia recently posted..WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail ~ by Cheryl StrayedMy Profile

  5. J.D. Meier Says:

    > I spent a month walking the Appalachian Trail in college
    That must have been absolutely fantastic. That’s definitely a keeper for the bucket list.
    J.D. Meier recently posted..Why Do We Communicate?My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    This next book about the Pacific Crest Trail has me wanting to try a length of that experience too…

    It is a keeper memory for sure, my companion was going to school in upper NY and so we walked from our summer camp to her new job. She had polio as a child and a heavy brace…her spirit was fabulous and I hope she completed her medical training. I think of her often
    Patricia recently posted..WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail ~ by Cheryl StrayedMy Profile

  6. Sam Juliano Says:

    Sounds like a great read Patricia! I have just alerted Lucille to this title. I love the name, and much appreciate your telling of the beautiful story and the narrative possibilities suggested. We’ll all be taken a kind of pilgrimage in three weeks, o there will always be a degree of soul-searching. Wonderful book review!!!

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you for your very kind words….I just adored this book and have already read it again – the part of the story where he lets go is just tremendously invigorating to me…

    As much as some would want to make this into a movie….I think it has to remain a book – so much depth and subtle nuance.
    I hope Lucille found it and she might just want you to read it also!
    Patricia recently posted..WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail ~ by Cheryl StrayedMy Profile

  7. Patricia Says:

    Hello all –
    Thank you for your wonderful comments…I will be back around more personally soon

    I just had a third procedure done on my cyst on my spine and am not feeling very well…very tired….so my body is saying go to sleep and heal….I am going to do just that.

    Wow I have some great book reviews for August…This book is just great and a start on some good reads…

    ….and I am going to put healing first….so I will be a bit hit or miss

    Thank you all for your great words
    Patricia recently posted..The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry ~Rachel JoyceMy Profile

  8. Sam Juliano Says:


    Best wishes on a speedy recovery my friend!

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Sam,
    I am feeling much better and think the drains may come out this week – I am missing sitting in a chair and leaning back!

    Just walking and reading and napping these hot days…
    Hope you vacation is a good one…and not too hot
    Patricia recently posted..WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail ~ by Cheryl StrayedMy Profile

  9. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this wonderful read! Thanks for being on the tour.

    Patricia Reply:

    Heather J
    It was my pleasure…I love that you share these books with me..
    what a treat
    Patricia recently posted..WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail ~ by Cheryl StrayedMy Profile

  10. Chris Edgar Says:

    Hi Patricia — that’s definitely something I’ve considered once in a while — that is, randomly taking a journey, in my case into the woods, with nothing more than the clothes on my back. I probably would bring some food, but that would be it. The most important aspect of this would be the lack of internet access. We’ll see if I get around to it! :)
    Chris Edgar recently posted..Seeking Fictional Corporate Logo IdeasMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Then you will definitely like the next book I am reviewing – that is just about precisely what the author did…and she went right by your front door!

    I hope to be back reading some more blogs soon…I want to keep up to date on your musical and it’s progress…

    Let me know if you are going to wander off – okay? promise me!
    Patricia recently posted..WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail ~ by Cheryl StrayedMy Profile

  11. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. the books sounds very eccentric and very English – thanks for the tip off … I’ll see if it’s the Library – sounds fascinating.

    I hope you’re feeling better re the surgery – sounds tricky – the main thing is take your time, relax and be peaceful as you recover ..

    with thoughts – Hilary

    Patricia Reply:

    I think you would love this book…I thought of you several times during the read.

    Thank you for your well wishes…I am working on patience because it is so wonderful to have the pain gone and the hands working better…. I can not lean back in a chair yet and typing lying prone is quite a work out…so I am still hit or miss.

    I think the drain comes out on Friday – I think that will be a good relief.

    We are also having a 90’F week so that makes it good to not being doing too much also
    Thinking about you and wishing you well
    Patricia recently posted..WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail ~ by Cheryl StrayedMy Profile