Join Rachel Joyce to talk about January's Book of the Month, THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, on Tuesday 29 Jan, 9-10pm

(222 Posts)

January is all about making fresh starts, new plans and wildly unrealistic promises. Most of us fall by the wayside within days. But not Harold Fry. The hero of our Booker-longlisted, January Book of the Month, THE PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, is a retired and unhappily married pensioner living in Devon, who receives a letter from an old friend in Berwick Upon Tweed telling him she has cancer. He writes a reply, but on his way to the postbox, he decides that this is not enough. He must walk to Berwick in person, there and then. Only this, he knows, will keep her alive. And so begins a remarkable journey through the roads, cafes, tourist centres, towns and lanes of Britain. Along the way, a cast of diverse characters support, encourage and empathise with him, eventually turning into a cult following. Meanwhile, Harold's own memories begin to bubble up, and resolve the regret and sadness that have blighted his marriage and his relationship with David, the son who dramatically left home.

An exploration of grief and regret, as well as a celebration of love, faith and hope, this is a charming, moving and peculiarly British book.

Our book of the month page has more details about THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY. You can get a paperback or Kindle edition here.

We are thrilled that Rachel will be joining us to discuss the book and answer any questions about THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY, the Booker longlist and her writing career on Tuesday 29 January, 9-10pm.

Hope you can join us...

difficultpickle Tue 29-Jan-13 21:46:48

How did you decide Harold's route?

I thought it was a lovely book and not too slow at all. I did think things got a bit lost in the middle when Harold became a celebrity and had others accompanying him on his walk so I was pleased to see the back of them. I would have liked Kate to stay though as she seemed a very sympathetic character and her insight would have added to Harold's journey in a positive way.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:46:51

[quote hippoCritt]Rachel,
I have previously posted about your book on another thread,however I'd like to ask if you ever seen a film having read the book and enjoyed it? They always seem such a let down, I feel rather defensive of Harold's journey, I wouldn't want him to be sold short by the movie makers!

Hello hippoCritt,

I love books, this is my problem. I love films too - but you can't read them in bed so easily. (Or at least I can't.)

HIgh Fidelity? That made the jump, I think. But I agree that it is tricky.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:47:29

bisjo

How did you decide Harold's route?

I thought it was a lovely book and not too slow at all. I did think things got a bit lost in the middle when Harold became a celebrity and had others accompanying him on his walk so I was pleased to see the back of them. I would have liked Kate to stay though as she seemed a very sympathetic character and her insight would have added to Harold's journey in a positive way.

currybaby Tue 29-Jan-13 21:47:53

Hi Rachel
Thanks for your answers. I've imagined an ending for Harold and Maw smile
I'm looking forward to your next book

I'd love to know what you are reading at the moment, and also which authors are your particular heros/heroines?

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:49:27

[quote bisjo]How did you decide Harold's route?

I thought it was a lovely book and not too slow at all. I did think things got a bit lost in the middle when Harold became a celebrity and had others accompanying him on his walk so I was pleased to see the back of them. I would have liked Kate to stay though as she seemed a very sympathetic character and her insight would have added to Harold's journey in a positive way.

OOPS, pressed too soon again..

I made him go through places I know. I started with Kingsbridge - where my Paul grew up - and used a lot of what I know. The barn where he stays the night outside is down the end of my lane. I sat in a lot as I wrote that bit.

gaelicsheep Tue 29-Jan-13 21:49:44

Thanks for answering my questions Rachel and sorry if my first one struck too close to the bone. I am very sorry about your dad and of course I understand why you wrote it as you did under the circumstances.

As for the groupies, I'm afraid I do fall into the camp who found them a bit too irritating and distracting and I think I would have preferred the book if Harold and the reader had remained in that bubble. But that's just me. A very good read nonetheless and I am very pleased to have had the chance to "speak" with you directly. Thank you.

And I've got to quickly add, on casting: it is Jim Broadbent all the way for me. Never any doubt. I had his lovely droopy face, and forehead lines in my mind through the whole book. Maureen, I'm not so sure....

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:51:45

[quote TillyBookClub]I'd love to know what you are reading at the moment, and also which authors are your particular heros/heroines?

I am reading about six books at once. Terrible really. Rilke's Letter To A Young Poet, a biography about Nick Drake, The Yellow Birds..

I collect books by the bed.

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 21:52:12

Meant to ask if you've ever been to Darlington? That's my home town, was so excited that he went there. But only answer if you have time as I shouldn't be greedy blush

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:52:35

[quote gaelicsheep]Thanks for answering my questions Rachel and sorry if my first one struck too close to the bone. I am very sorry about your dad and of course I understand why you wrote it as you did under the circumstances.

As for the groupies, I'm afraid I do fall into the camp who found them a bit too irritating and distracting and I think I would have preferred the book if Harold and the reader had remained in that bubble. But that's just me. A very good read nonetheless and I am very pleased to have had the chance to "speak" with you directly. Thank you.

It was my pleasure.

currybaby Tue 29-Jan-13 21:53:03

maureen- julie walters

hippoCritt Tue 29-Jan-13 21:53:18

I don't think I have ever enjoyed a web chat so much, fascinating to hear others experience of reading TUP
Thanks for answering my question, of course watching films also leaves 2 hands free too, free to open my chocolate. I was very excited to see your next book on amazon, no clues there though! I look forward to reading it though, perfectly timed for summer holiday reading smile

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 21:53:54

Oh I'm reading 4 books, although have fallen out with 2 of them. 3 are non fiction though.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:54:13

[quote CuriousMama]Meant to ask if you've ever been to Darlington? That's my home town, was so excited that he went there. But only answer if you have time as I shouldn't be greedy blush

We had a family meal there once and my grandfather almost set light to the restaurant by lighting a candle with a paper serviette.

The Yellow Birds is astonishing, isn't it? It is going to be our Book of the Month in a few months time, so do come and ask Kevin a question - take a turn on the other side of the fence!

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:56:06

[quote TillyBookClub]The Yellow Birds is astonishing, isn't it? It is going to be our Book of the Month in a few months time, so do come and ask Kevin a question - take a turn on the other side of the fence!

I might just do that..Thank you. It's a stunning piece of writing.

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 21:56:19

grin Thanks for answering. Sounds like our family meals.

HellesBelles396 Tue 29-Jan-13 21:56:33

Thanks for asking my earlier question, Rachel.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:57:03

currybaby

maureen- julie walters

Well indeed. So many great British actors to choose from...

HellesBelles396 Tue 29-Jan-13 21:57:08

sorry: answering. well past my bedtime smile

gaelicsheep Tue 29-Jan-13 21:58:09

Re casting, I thought Harold is supposed to be v tall. That's why I was thinking Bill Nighy or somebody like that (if he can manage not to be too annoying). Interesting that I thought of Jim Broadbent in the context of Rex though - I'd have cast him as Harold apart from the height thing. And I didn't know he read the audio book!

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:58:21

Thanks for asking my earlier question, Rachel.

And thank you for asking it!!

I think I am almost getting the hang of this..

HellesBelles396 Tue 29-Jan-13 21:59:43

The audio book is definitely going on my wish list.

My watershed moment in the book wasn't any of the reveals - it was Maureen taking down the nets...

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 22:00:12

[quote gaelicsheep]Re casting, I thought Harold is supposed to be v tall. That's why I was thinking Bill Nighy or somebody like that (if he can manage not to be too annoying). Interesting that I thought of Jim Broadbent in the context of Rex though - I'd have cast him as Harold apart from the height thing. And I didn't know he read the audio book!

But Jim is very tall.

Shall I tell you the most unlikely suggestion? John Travolta.. I think he is an amazing actor, but maybe a little too lively for Harold?

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