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A tender, quietly comic, heartstopping and very British coming of (old) age novel from a powerful new voice in fiction.

John Lennon lay in bed once. I am going to walk. The walk is the idea.'

When Harold Fry sets out one morning to post a letter to his dying friend Queenie he finds himself at the start of a journey that will have many beginnings, and for which he's entirely unprepared.
This is a story about a huge leap of faith. It's about raw secrets tucked away behind net curtains and those moments of impulse and chance encounters that will transform us. It's about bravery and betrayal, love, loyalty and an unremarkable pair of yachting shoes. Above all, it is a book which will make your heart sing; a book about the power in how we touch each other's lives.


One of the sweetest, most delicately-written stories I've read in a long time. One man's walk along the length of England to save the life of a dying woman. Each chapter describes a different encounter along the way, with a definite nod to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Philosophical, intriguing, and profoundly moving.

Richard Madeley, Foyles website

Uplifting, funny and delicate

Jon Stock, The Daily Telegraph

At times almost unbearably moving.

Sunday Times

A brilliant and charming novel: full of comic panache yet acute and poignant.


one of the most moving, uplifting, inspiring novels I've ever read

Richard Madeley

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is a funny book, a wise book, a charming book – but never cloying. It’s a book with a savage twist, and yet never seems manipulative. Perhaps because Harold himself is just wonderful...This book may follow a pattern set by another radio dramatist-turned-novelist, David Nicholls, whose One Day has now sold more than a million copies and been made into a successful film simply because one reader said to another ‘I love this book’ over and over again. So I’m telling you now: I love this book.

Erica Wagner, The Times


Deborah Orr, Guardian

A terrific book, comic and sad and very honest. Harold is a wonderfully-drawn character... his story is at the same time emotionally gruelling and yet ultimately uplifting.

Joanne Harris

a gorgeously poignant novel of hope and transformation

Oprah Magazine

Life-affirming delight. A comic pleasure.

Woman and Home

A tender, funny debut about second chances and regained love as a man takes to the road on an unusual quest.

Marie Claire

The odyssey of a simple man, original, subtle and touching.

Claire Tomalin

Compelling and truly wonderful. It made me laugh out loud at times and brought tears to my eyes. There are sentences that are just brilliant and well observed.

David Headley, Goldsboro Bookshop

I was completely blown away. I thought I was about to read a comic novel but what can I say - it was indeed funny, but tender, ironic and deeply moving, a really wonderful book.

Pat Abrehard, Harbour Bookshop, Kingsbridge, Devon

Harold Fry is infuriating, hilarious and completely out of his depth, but I held my breath at his every blister and cramp and, felt, as if by turning the pages, I might help his impossible quest succeed. Marvellous!

Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrewâ??s Last Stand

From the moment I met Harold Fry, I didn't want to leave him. Impossible to put down.

Erica Wagner, The Times

Tender and funny, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry shows that even our frailties can be uplifting and redemptive.

Edward Stourton

A delightfully original and engaging debut.

Rebecca Frayn

I loved this book. I loved its purity, its brutality and unerring honesty. I don't think I have read such richly composed metaphors before. They are like shooting stars glittering across each page. I can't believe this is her first novel- I wait with bated breath for her next.

Natascha McElhone

Harold's unlikely pilgrimage takes him the length of the country - and into the deepest parts of himself. This beautifully written tale is by turns funny, touching, farcical and heroic. A very unusual and uplifting debut.

Isabel Wolff

This book is like a naive painting: simple and profound. It is a moving story , full of heart, laced through with wry wit. I loved Harold and Maureen and their separate journeys. It felt like a celebration of being alive, being human. Beautiful!

Niamh Cusack

Accomplished BBC playwright Joyce’s debut novel is a gentle and genteel charmer, brimming with British quirkiness yet quietly haunting in its poignant and wise examination of love and devotion. Sure to become a bookclub favorite.


Joyce’s beguiling debut is another modest-seeming story of ‘ordinary’ English lives that enthralls and moves you as it unfolds.

People Magazine 4* Review

Tender and profound, fresh and funny, a debut that provokes thoughts of reconciliation

Marie Claire, Italy

[Joyce] has created, with admirable ease, the kind of character whom readers will struggle to forget, who is genuine from the very beginning... emotionally gripping... a 21st-century morality tale that ultimately, and perhaps surprisingly, celebrates the kindness of strangers

The Independent

Impressive... Tender and thought-provoking

Choice Magazine

A moving, redemptive story

The Lady

[Harold's] tragicomic journey has the affecting simplicity of a modern-day parable

Sunday Telegraph

I found myself taking days over it just because I wanted to savour every few pages. An enchanting, gentle book.

Nathaniel Parker, Daily Express

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 2, 2013

    Black Swan

    384 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    May 1, 2012

    Transworld Digital

    384 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop
A Snow Garden and Other Stories
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
Faraway Smell of Lemon
In the Kingdom of Men


The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Handmaid's Tale
Ready Player One
To Kill A Mockingbird
A Gentleman in Moscow
Best Laid Plans
Echo Burning
Dragonfly In Amber
The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Girl on the Train
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Golden Age
The Golden House
Swing Time
The Bear and The Nightingale
The Mistress
The Girls
Tiger Men
Fifty Shades Darker
The Light Between Oceans