The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Publisher: Anchor Canada
"The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is not just a book about lost love. . . . It is very much a story of present-day courage." --The New York Times
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?



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...
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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...

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 • "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. . . . A smart, subtle, funny, painful, weirdly personal novel." --The Globe and Mail