Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Harold Fry, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Harold Fry, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

(Harold Fry #1)

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  129,283 Ratings  ·  16,001 Reviews
Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning a letter arrives, addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl, from a woman he hasn’t heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published March 15th 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Marion I Loved this book and all the characters. Partway into the book I wished he'd come through my town so I could join his pilgrimage. Filled with so many…moreI Loved this book and all the characters. Partway into the book I wished he'd come through my town so I could join his pilgrimage. Filled with so many wonderful ordinary people, doing good things as best they can. I was on the road as helplessly and determinedly as Harold was, and am better for it.(less)
Fiona If you enjoyed reading Harold's tale, I heartily recommend "The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey" to you. It will give you her side of the story…moreIf you enjoyed reading Harold's tale, I heartily recommend "The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey" to you. It will give you her side of the story and more details on some of the characters, to boot. (Not saying any more as it would spoil it) but well worth the read too!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who believe life's problems can be solved with a nice cup of tea
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Hooked by Title and Cover
The Harold Fry that leaves to mail a letter to his dying friend is drained by life, full of self-loathing and incapable of mending his ruined marriage. ‘For years they had been in a place where language had no significance’. He just keeps walking in the belief that his journey will save her life. I wanted to shout “keep going Harold!”, to remind him of the adage ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ because Harold’s journey was testament to its truth.

A journey just as much about having the cour

Lisa Kay
Found at The Sunday Edition:

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the story of one man's faith in his feet. (OneEighteen/photopin)

★★★★★ So well narrated by the wonderful Jim Broadbent. If you'd like to hear a bit of it, go here and click on the pod casts. It touched my heart.

Jim Broadbent

North Devon coastline

Clovelly, North Devon

Taunton, U.K. You can see the paving stones.

Walled gardens in Taunton.

Glastonbury England - The Resting place of the Legendary King Arthur

Mendip Hills

horse chestnut

Richard Derus
Three star review has moved to Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

But really, there are better ways to spend your eyeblinks than reading this mawkish treacle.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2017-completed
One of my favorite places to read during nice weather is out on my balcony. At one point in this book I was out reading, sunglasses on to cut the sun’s glare, and the story gripped my heart to the weeping point. Do I go in so my neighbours don’t see? But I’m wearing my sunglasses. Yes, but the tears are falling from under the sunglasses and rolling down my cheeks.

I did come in from outside (no tissues on my balcony) and then I thought, if Harold Fry is brave enough to walk so many miles and is n
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have just browsed through a bunch of reviews that are literally glowing with praise, so I feel rather embarrassed that I cannot be more enthused about this novel.
I was really taken in by the premise and rather enjoyed the beginning of the book, probably until celebrity, hype and disciples befall Harold.
From that point on, I started to find the book predictable, if not a little trite even. I also think that while I have nothing against a good dose of pathos, this may have bordered on the overdo
Lynne Spreen
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midlife
I just finished this lovely book, and I'm never going to forget it. To those who say nobody wants to read about "old people", I'd say, read this book. The fact is, as long as you're alive, you should be open to growth and change, right? But how many of us stop growing after middle age? We find a formula that works and we stick with it, missing opportunities to experience joyous awakening. Maybe we start saying things like, "I'm too old to do X any more." And we shut down, close off. We fail to n ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books, owned
stil mulling this one. sometimes i really liked it and other moments i was...a little bored. there was definitely an overuse of "put one foot in front of the other" that verged on becoming a drinking game. the premise of the story is lovely but it did get a bit schlocky and mitch albom-y for my tastes. mentions of both facebook and twitter in the book were curious.

edited to add (pasted in from my comment below, in case people don't read the comments here):

you know, the further i get from reading
B the BookAddict
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dale, everyone
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: saw comments by Michael and Lit Bug
Shelves: fiction
What to say about The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry; a lovely read, a phenomenal book, exceptional and captivating. How I lingered over this book; read it slowly to truly savour and appreciate the story. The author doesn't try to impress you with pretentious words nor does she bamboozle you with a convoluted plot. It's an unembellished story. The 'hero' is not good-looking or rich; he's a simple man who embarks on the journey of a lifetime. I loved the absolute clarity of foresight into the ...more
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harold Fry has never done the unexpected, having spent the last 65 years living a quiet sheltered life. Retired for the last six months Harold shaves each morning and puts on a tie only to sit in the same chair with nowhere to go as his wife Maureen silently cleans. One day he recieves a letter from an woman from his past who informs him she is dying. Harold pens his reply only to be disappointed by his response so he makes a snap decision to walk across England from Kingsbridge to Berwick Upton ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I fear I am heartless.

Some people I respect as readers give this book five stars and I just can't.

Basically, it is about a man taking a walk. Beginning, middle, end. He gets bad news about an old friend and just starts walking, wearing the wrong kind of shoes and without bringing his 'mobile.'

Most of the book is about regret and finding his way back to what matters. So, I get that, but it didn't poke through my tough exterior, I guess. You have my permission to call me heartless.

I listened to t
Kevin Ansbro
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yacht shoe-wearers, eternal optimists, mature readers.
Attention all yacht shoe wearers! Please unite for this wonderfully heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking tale of loss, sorrow and redemption.
For reasons unimaginable, some (ahem!) fair-minded readers have offered this cleverly-crafted book an oh-so-generous one star, out of five! Seriously, WTF?
It may be true that TUPOHF is more likely to be better-received by mature readers and would also appeal to Anglophiles who are the wrong side of forty (effectively old gits,
Oct 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What the heck, Goodreads?? What the HECK?

Though I did not finish this, I feel that is proof enough of this book's ridiculousness. Maybe I am all the more indignant because I was all, hey, check it out, it got this crazy good rating, and yay, my library managed to get it before I got too old to read, and isn't goodreads amazing because wow it alerts me to wonderful books and SO I DON'T HAVE TO READ BAD ONES ANYMORE EXCEPT THIS TIME I STILL DID!
What is it with you people? I mean seriously?? Let's
A pilgrim is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place.

And, whether that holy place has an actual, physical location, like a Mecca or a Jerusalem, or is still yet to be determined by the traveler, “your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” (Joseph Campbell)

The pilgrim in this story, Harold Fry, may be the unlikeliest pilgrim as all. He's a 65-year-old recent retiree who hasn't seen his son or slept in the same room as his wife in twenty years. Harold has “made a mes
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, england, travel, grief
I loved the purity and spare beauty of this sad but uplifting tale. At first I wondered how I could possibly get involved in this apparently absurd story. A retired salesman for a brewery receives a letter of goodbye from an old friend, Queenie, who is dying of cancer, and, on the way to the mailbox with a return reply, ends up setting out on a 500 mile walk to visit her. But it was a quick read and full of pleasant surprises and many special moments where the clouds of life’s travails and burie ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sheer delight to read! This novel will force you to slow down and reflect upon your life...
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pilgrims
Recommended to Alison by: Dini
"Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human."

I just finished this book on New Year's Eve, and I'm so happy I did, because this is a book about new beginnings, even the ones begun in the twilight of our lives.

I have to begin by being perfectly honest which is, I feel, not only in keeping with the spirit of this book, but also the way that Harold would have wanted it. I feel like a
Gabriela Silva
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The people he met, the places he passed, were all steps in his journey, and he kept a place inside his heart for each of them.”

This was such a powerful book! I'm so glad I took the time to read it. I loved the writing style! BRILLIANT!
Angela M
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have recently reread parts of this book in conjunction with reading The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and I am revising my rating from 4 to 5 stars .

This is a journey to the past. Each slow step, each blister, each new person Harold meets reveals something of the truth of his life to him and to us.

An unwanted, neglected boy grew up to be an unremarkable man. But for a brief instant, he frolicked at a dance and attracted the loveliest girl, Maureen. They dreamed and planned and married. They made a lovely home with veggie gardens and had one son, David.

Harold worked at the brewery for 45 years for an obnoxious bully of a boss (like his fath
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: The letter that changed 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 he wasn't eating. He gazed beyond the kitchen window at the clipped lawn, which was spiked in the middle by Maureen's telescopic washing line, and trapped on all three sides by the neighbours closeboard fencing.

'Harold!' called Maureen abov
Cathrine ☯️
An allegorical adventure that speaks to the reader gently, quietly, and personally. Harold’s odyssey if you will in Forrest Gump fashion taking it one day at a time.

Burdened by a life where he has ended up feeling like nothing he did mattered, in a souless marriage that appears to be well past its expiration date, Harold has a destination in mind but of course it’s all about the journey getting there. Haunted by buried memories and words left unsaid he takes a first literal step and then man
Jul 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where to next Sancho?

Harold Fry is definitely an unlikely hero. He would also have easily been voted ‘least likely to go on a spiritual quest’. This makes him perfect for this story because it’s about unlikely thoughts, friendships, marriages, what have you. Harold’s quest begins with a letter from a former co-worker he thinks of fondly. They’ve shared a pivotal moment in Harold’s life. He reads the letter soon after he retires from said job and he reads it in front of his continually carping wi
I don't want to say much about the book, since so many have read and reviewed it already.
Touching, endearing, realistic, emotional, good.

It is one of the books on my To-Be-Read list that constantly landed on top, and I finally relented. I am not sorry at all. I took the time to venture off with Harold Fry with his letter to Queenie, felt the blisters, muscle spasms and emotional denouement as we walked 627 miles from south to north through England to deliver a letter personally. We dissected li
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sweet and wonderful story...
I won't be pursuing this read. After the first few chapters, the book and I decided to sit down and seriously talk about where this read was headed. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Look, I don't mean to appear impatient, ok, I know you're doing your best to hold my attention in this read, but I have to admit to you, and I hope you can understand that this is in no way an indictement of the style or structure, but the whole plot feels rather contrived.

TUPOHF: Where is this headed? A
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was going to wait a while to write anything about this because it was one of those books that opened me up to so much feeling that I wasn’t sure I could corral it all into a coherent summary. But whatever! Turns out that I couldn’t wait to say how breathtaking this story was to me, and how it made me feel.

I won’t try to distill the essence of this story in a paragraph or two, because that would be cheating it of so much of its value. I’m pretty sure it will be a personal experience for each r
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a wonderful experience to come across a book that makes you think or one that takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions; but every once in awhile you discover a book that does both... The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is one of those books for me.

Harold Fry is an ordinary older man who has recently retired from his lifelong rather ordinary job. He spends his days in a regimented, very structured kind of way with his wife of many years, Maureen. It was on one of those ordinary days
Larry H
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This sweet, heartfelt book reminded me of movies like Waking Ned Devine or The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. It even had some Forrest Gump-ian characteristics (without the Southern accent or the meteoric run through historical events). But despite some similarities, this was a unique book with a story all its own.

Harold Fry recently retired from his job, and now doesn't feel motivated to do much of anything. His very presence seems to irritate his wife, Maureen. But the
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is only one book that has ever made me cry. That book is The Kite Runner. I had always wondered if I would ever read another book that would make me cry and if so, which book would it be? Harold Fry… you made me cry and cry and cry and then when I thought I was finished crying…you made me cry again.

Harold Fry, now retired, receives a letter from an old friend and work colleague, Queenie Hennessy. Queenie, who hasn’t seen Harold for over twenty years, is saying goodbye. So begins Harold’s j
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Oh wow, and wow...a book that actually made me cry, I think that's a first. This book I so wish was chosen by my book club to read, it's so touching, so moving, so funny, so human and has one of the most powerful endings.

I felt like I knew Harold personally, I cheered him on with his pilgrimage walk.

This book is special, is about the human spirit, it felt so real at times it could almost be a true story, everyone should read this book.

Some breathtaking paragraphs that touched me so very deeply.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Yips
  • A Place of Greater Safety
  • Boom!
  • The Lighthouse
  • Die a Little
  • Philida
  • Mrs Queen Takes the Train
  • Skios
  • Communion Town
  • The Emperor of Paris
  • Benediction (Plainsong, #3)
  • An Available Man
  • Running the Rift
  • The Land of Decoration
  • The Universe Versus Alex Woods
  • The End of Your Life Book Club
  • The Garden of Evening Mists
  • Emily, Alone (Emily Maxwell, #2)
Rachel Joyce has written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play. She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and ...more

Other books in the series

Harold Fry (2 books)
  • The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Harold Fry, #2)
“People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside. The superhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that.” 197 likes
“I miss her all the time. I know in my head that she has gone. The only difference is that I am getting used to the pain. It's like discovering a great hole in the ground. To begin with, you forget it's there and keep falling in. After a while, it's still there, but you learn to walk round it.” 174 likes
More quotes…