The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Devon to Berwick – Rachel Joyce

harold-fry (1)

This book with its ready made map in the beginning is just crying out for a booktrail! It is a booktrail ready made!

Story in a nutshell 

Harold Fry is convinced that he must deliver a letter to an old love in order to save her, meeting various characters along the way and reminiscing about the events of his past and people he has known, as he tries to find peace and acceptance.

He walks all the way from Devon to Berwick for one reason and soon discovers that the journey throws up many questions and thoughts and that is before he has ever got to his destination!

This is such a sweet and uplifting story but never saccharine sweet or overdone. You will laugh and cry and moan at Harold but you will always will him on and encourage him to get to the next place. Extremely well written and people well observed – a character study and a tale of hope if ever we read one!

The booktrail to beat all booktrails!
The booktrail to beat all booktrails!

Well if this not the ultimate booktrail and tour of the UK by a literary character then we don’t know what is. Harold walks from the south of the country to the North in search of his special friend Queenie Henessey and it takes him through some of the most lovely cities and places in the country.

Follow the map and see the main parts of Harold’s journey – from Devon right up to Berwick on the border with Scotland via Exeter, Bath, Sheffield and the city of York.

Harold Travel Tips

He buys 4 table mats from the gift shop at Bickley Mill – “which offer laminated views of Devon” –

Tries a Regency bath cream tea in a Bath tearoom and also stops for a rest in Bagley Green, Somerset. 

The reason we loved this book was its simplicity and overriding message of hope. As Harold himself says in  a letter to Queenie: “I am on my way. All you have to do is wait. Because I’m going to save you. I will keep walking, and you must keep living.”

This was a charming novel for many reasons – the way in which Harold set off in flimsy shoes to walk all the way to Berwick to do what he thought was right, to see his love and respect for Queenie, to understand the problems in his life and what he thought about them, and to learn of the people he meets along the way – those that tell their own stories or help him to achieve his.


Along the way Harold thinks a lot about his life and how he has acted with certain situations and with his family. It’s only when he talks to others along the way that he soon realises that other people – those he meets on the way are also struggling with inner turmoil – struggling to put one foot in front of the other both literally and figuratively.

It’s very sad in parts but ultimately this is not a sad read. I cheered for Harold! I smiled as I imagined him and the dog running along side him, I was sad when he injured his feet – I thanked those who gave Harold hope and encouragement. But all the while I wanted to hug him and tell him to carry on as so many people were right behind him.

Harold could be any one of us – a simple normal person with regrets, a threadbare marriage and a dedication to a true friend. I often wondered what Queenie would make of all this – did she realise what was going on?

Happily Rachel has written Queenie’s story which we booktrail next- back to the world of Harold Fry? Yes please

2 thoughts on “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Devon to Berwick – Rachel Joyce

    1. Aah thanks Amy! that’s very kind of you. Well if you enjoy this which Im sure you will, the Lovesong of Miss Queenie Hennessy is out on Oct 9th which gives her side of the story! Enjoy and would be keen to know what you think!

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