Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry'
Author: Rachel Joyce

Format: ARC
Published: Random House; July 2012
Pages: 336
Genre: British fiction
Grade: C
Source: TLC Book Tours

Synopsis: Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him—allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.

My Take: Sorry I was absent there for a little while faithful readers! My life got away from me and then I just needed to decompress and take a break for a bit. Hopefully I'll be back a bit more regularly now and I'll give you a full update next week. However, at the moment let's focus on this quirky little novel shall we?

This is Rachel Joyce's first novel and I quite liked it. I realise I didn't give it a very high-rating but honestly sometimes a middling grade just means that's it's ok. Not every book has to be ohmygodsoamazingIhavetotelleveryone. Some books are nice, quiet, slow paced books. I quite often find that British fiction is just that. More of a meandering story than a real fast paced, knock your socks off story line so perhaps that was fitting. 

The novel centers, as the title might suggest, around Harold Fry, and something unusual he sets out to do. He lives, let's be honest, a rather boring life. A retiree from a brewery, his wife and he have never done much of anything noteworthy. One morning he gets a letter from an old coworker, Queenie, letting him know that she has cancer and isn't long for this world. It affects him enormously and Harold soon feels that merely writing a letter of condolence back isn't enough. He must DO something. So he decides to walk to her. Right that minute. Granted it seems a little ridiculous because he is wholly unprepared since he will be walking over 600mi. in some not very decent shoes without the proper provisions without really telling his wife. But no matter. He is doing something about it and it gives his life some purpose for once.

So yes, Harold goes on a pilgrimage and while on that pilgrimage we learn about England and we learn about the life Harold has led and why he is the man he is. It's actually rather sad most of the time. For me, being that's it's summer and let's be honest, my life is slightly out of control right now, while I normally like weird Bristish stories, a random tale of wandering proportions may not have found me at quite the right time. However, you might be someone who needs just that. A nice, quiet little tale.

For other opinions on this book, please check out the full TLC Tour here!

Giveaway Details
Thanks to the author, I have one to give away! The deadline for this giveaway is July 20th; entries open to those in the US (no PO boxes please).

To Enter (Mandatory)!
Comment below with a way for me to contact you.

For Extra entries (Optional), indicate that you are:
+1 Follow this blog on Google Connect (see right sidebar)
+1 Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway (include @amusedbybooks in your tweet)
+1 Blog/Post about this giveaway on your sidebar

3 extra entries available. Giveaway open until 11:59pm PST July 20th. I will draw the winners using and announce them here on my blog. Good luck!


  1. thanks for the giveaway.
    here is my tweet:
    I believe I'm already following you on google connect, as it does not give me that option, but shows my name above your google connect
    Emma @ Words And Peace
    ehc16e at yahoo dot com

  2. Don't count me in for the giveaway as I am on the tour too! I am almost done with the book and liking it quite a bit. It's quirky, but not too quirky and I love Harold and Maureen, which helps.

  3. Now that you mention it, British books are generally more low key like that. No need to enter me.

  4. I'm on the tour too and I do look forward to reading this one. Even though you gave it a C it sounds like one I will enjoy.

  5. I've just started this one myself. I usually enjoy quirky in the summertime, so maybe it will be a good fit :)

  6. I tend to like this type of British story so I'm looking forward to making time to read it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this on for the tour!

  7. This sounds like an enjoyable book that I would like to read. Thanks for the giveaway.

    GFC Myra C

    myra0502 at yahoo dot com

  8. I just read a Hester Browne book, she too is an English author, and I always find her books slow moving, but after reading them I look back and find I enjoyed them. Go figure....

  9. Sorry this wasn't better for you. Hope to read it this summer.

  10. I;m quite alright with good (maybe not great) and quirky. I'd love to read it.
    stacybooks at yahoo

  11. This book sounds like something. I would. Enjoy. Gfc rhonda Lomazow. Email twitter rhondareads.

  12. Adore this story and looking forward to winning! I am English and love all literature about England. It has hidden delightful stories and language that Americans never understand.

  13. I follow you on Google Connect, FB and Pinterest! Thanks agains

  14. This sounds like a book I will enjoy.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  15. I follow via gfc - mamabunny13
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  16. I follow you on twitter @mamabunny13
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  17. Thanks for the giveaway! Sounds like a perfect summer read!

    ladybook21 at yahoo dot com

  18. Wonderful giveaway. Many thanks for this chance. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  19. This book sounds so special. Would enjoy it this summer. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  20. Please enter my name in the draw for a chance to win a copy of Harold's story. It sounds like a wonderful read. I'd be very happy to win a copy. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    +1 Follow through GFC: Carl Scott

    +1 Followed on Twitter: @carlrscott and tweeted a link to this post:


  21. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

    +1 I follow on GFC: nfmgirl

    +1 I follow on Twitter and tweeted:

    +1 Blogged:


    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com


Thanks for stopping by Amused By Books and taking the time to comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...