Audiobook review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

51cmeqw2tdl-_sl300_The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Release date:
 15 March 2012
Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)
Length:  9 hours 57 minutes (Unabridged)
Narrated by:  Rachel Joyce
Published by:  Random House Audiobooks
Available at:,

My Rating: 5 out of 5


Publisher’s Summary:

Winner: New Writer of the Year – Specsavers National Book Awards 2012

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof, or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking – to save someone else’s life.

Jim Broadbent has starred in a huge range of films, from British favourites including Bridget Jones and Hot Fuzz, to Hollywood blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and the Harry Potter films. In 2001 he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Iris. Most recently he starred as Denis Thatcher opposite Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

©2012 Rachel Joyce (P)2012 Random House AudioGo

My Thoughts:

I purchased an download of this audiobook through my monthly subscription.

Whenever I still have a whole week to go until my Audible subscription renews, and I’m craving a book to listen to on the train, while I’m walking, to keep me company while I’m gardening, this is the audiobook I keep returning to.

It’s a gently told story, but not to be underestimated for that reason.  Jim Broadbent is the perfect narrator.  I can easily imagine him being perfect casting for the role of Harold, if this book were ever to be transformed into a film/TV drama.

It starts so simply with a man, just doing the same thing he always does every day.  Each unremarkable numb day.  He gets a letter from an old friend, and that sets in motion something in Harold’s mind that I think he can’t even articulate at that moment, never mind predict the end result.  He writes a reply and then walks to the post box, and then decides to walk to the next post box, and then just keeps walking and walking and walking.

To begin with it seems that walking is giving him room to think.  It soon becomes apparent that in many ways Harold is walking away from his life, and then himself.

It’s one of those books where publisher’s summary doesn’t do justice to the places the book takes you.  An ordinary slightly dull man, living his ordinary slightly dull life, does one little extraordinary thing and the ramifications turn out to be huge.  This unassuming man who seems to think when all is said and done he is a waste of space and oxygen, is shown that he does have value.  More than that, he inspires other people, is briefly a media sensation, does something quite beautiful.  At the end of it all this is a remarkable man who has faced up to the pain of his past, and can at last move forward.

It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think.  I thoroughly recommend it as a wonderful weekend listen/read.



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