The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – Audio Review

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce, Book Journey, Narrator, audio, Jim Broadbent book,

Harold Fry now in his 60’s, retired and living with his wife in their English village home has come to expect…


Life is quiet and unsurprising.  Each day his mere existence and his wife’s avoidance makes the silence between them earth shattering loud.  Retirement is not awesome.

Then one morning a letter comes in the mail.  It is from a co-worker that Harold once had named Queenie Hennessy.  She has terminal cancer and has written to say good-bye.

Harold is struck by this message with a deep sadness.  He quickly writes a response to her, tells Maureen his wife that he is heading out to the mailbox and walks out of the house.  As Harold passes his own mailbox, and heads into town where he passes two more, he has an encounter with a young girl at a restaurant who inspires him (unaware) to deliver Queenie’s letter in person.  Harold believes that as long as he is walking to Queenie, she can not die.  With only his boat shoes and a light jacket, Harold starts the 600 mile walk from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick… meeting along the way kind people who take him in.  As Harold’s pilgrimage continues he has a lot of time to think about his past, his wife, his son… losses and regrets… and of course, what he has never told Queenie.



You know those books you always mean to read but never seem to get around to doing it?  That is what The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was to me.  When recently it was on a sale at, I snatched it up on audio.

Harold Fry was a likable protagonist who had carried a lot of memories both good and bad, throughout his 60+ years.  As life tends to do, Harold stayed busy moving forward and never dealing with his past.  His Pilgrimage gave him the time he needed, alone to sort through what his life has been… and what it could still be.

This book is brilliant.  While on one hand you could say an elderly man trucking 600 miles with no plan is a bit ridiculous – it works.  When you understand that Harold needs to have a mission in his life and this is the moment he chooses… it works.  It really does.

Jim Broadbent was an amazing narrator, he handled  the different characters in the book smoothly.  His tone made for an excellent listen, very well paced and fit for what I would imagine Harold Fry sounding like.

Overall this book is surprisingly deep and one that really makes you think about your own life.  Thoroughly enjoyed.


Update:  I recently acquired an audio version of the follow up to this book, The Love Song Of Miss Queeny Henessy.  I am so excited to get to this listen and am curious about the narration of Celia Imrie who I believe is a new narrator to me.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 57 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: July 24, 2012


53 thoughts on “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – Audio Review

  1. I hadn’t heard of this book before, but it sounds like one of those terrific thinking books about life and all that. I think it sounds great. I am going to have to go look it up. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. I really disliked this book. I couldn’t relate to the characters even though the writing was brilliant. Going to book club and talking to some people who could understand Harold and Maureen made me like it a bit more, but I still wasn’t a fan. I knew it had its audience somewhere so I’m glad you could enjoy it. I liked Harold’s hangers-on. They made me smile. 🙂

  3. Loved this book, and am about to read the companion novel told from Queenie’s perspective. Another book that reminded me of this one was A Man Called Ove. No journey involved, but a grumpy old man whose not so grumpy on the inside 🙂

  4. I rarely read a book twice but The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is one that I did and I think I appreciated it even more the second time. I’m waiting for The Love Letters of Miss Queenie Hennessey to become available at the library now. There’s a long list of people on the hold list though so will have to practise patience. Meanwhile its Book 5 of Harry Potter!

  5. My book group discussed this one last year. I had a print copy sitting on my shelf for over a year without being read but when we selected this for book discussion, I downloaded the audio version and I loved it. Jim Broadbent’s narration was fantastic!

    I have an ARC of the companion novel about Queenie but haven’t read it yet. I hope it will be just as good.

  6. Grrrrr….can you believe I JUST returned this book to the library this afternoon?!! I literally had it here for months. I even had it offgassing (most library books wreak of fragrance from people’s hand lotions or air fresheners 😦 ) for the whole time it was here. Just this past week I came to terms that I simply will never have time for all the books I want to read and gave up. This review is making me regret it because it was a good review that made me order it in the first place *sigh* Someone, PLEASE give me a Time-Turner! I don’t CARE that they were all broken in the Ministry!

  7. Same for me with this book! I’ve been wanting to read it ever since it was released and haven’t gotten to it yet. It sounds sooo good! Thanks for your review – I think I will suggest it next time it is my turn to suggest a book for one of my book groups.


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