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...

GoldMyrrhAndNonsense Wed 05-Dec-12 02:00:42

I'm here early as I keep missing the book and then the chat. Downloading to my Kindle now!

HullyEastergully Wed 05-Dec-12 08:35:53

A book I don't have...hurrah!

HullyEastergully Wed 05-Dec-12 10:33:46

It is now 10.33 and not live.

Huh.

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 05-Dec-12 10:36:17

The Book of the Month page is now live. Apply for your free copy of THE PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY now.

HullyEastergully Wed 05-Dec-12 10:37:19

dunnit

aristocat Wed 05-Dec-12 14:49:33

Love, love the sound of this book.

smile

BeataNoxPotter Wed 05-Dec-12 14:57:34

Oh, it's absolutely wonderful. Hope I can make the webchat smile

HullyEastergully Wed 05-Dec-12 15:17:49

Out of interest, do people who don't much like the books just not post?

I only ever see Ooo Author Person, I loved your book so much it's so great...etc

BeataNoxPotter Wed 05-Dec-12 15:21:17

Dunno. never made it to a webchat yet. Promise not to be too gushy on this one though.

HullyEastergully Wed 05-Dec-12 15:22:03

Soz, didn't mean you two above specifically!

lilibet Wed 05-Dec-12 17:01:50

I love this book. It was a birthday present earlier this year and everyone I lend it to has nothing but praise for it. I shall post a question although I probably can't make the chat.

Hully, I'm guilty of not posting if I dislike a book. The Submission being a case in point. I'm out most Tuesdays and it seems mean to post a criticism and then not even turn up.

HullyEastergully Wed 05-Dec-12 17:15:12

But it isn't, it's fine if it is honest and constructive. Otherwise it's just get an author on and arselick. Dull.

BeataNoxPotter Wed 05-Dec-12 18:01:44

I ditch books I think are dull, Hully, so never persevere enough to offer constructive criticism. I think "This was dire, never made it past p10" is a bit too honest grin

DuchessofMalfi Thu 06-Dec-12 12:38:20

Hully, you didn't see my posts on the previous book, The Sisters Brothers, then. No arse-licking there. I hated it, and said so grin.

HullyEastergully Thu 06-Dec-12 14:35:24

No, I'll have to have a look

Although I LIKED that book very much so you are clearly WRONG

VeryMerryOnSherryGerryMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Dec-12 15:36:24

There are still some copies of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry left, but only a few, so don't dilly-dally, shilly-shally or other things rhyming with ally...

The BBC has a downloadable taster here.

ShadeMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 06-Dec-12 16:01:47

The giveaway copies of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry have now gone. If you were successful we'll forward your address details to the publisher who will pop a copy of the book in the post for you.

DuchessofMalfi Thu 06-Dec-12 16:39:00

^No, I'll have to have a look

Although I LIKED that book very much so you are clearly WRONG^

I do love a good debate about books, Hully, but I'm never going to change my mind about THAT book grin. It has been the only MN bookclub choice that I loathed, but there have been one or two I wasn't that enthralled with eg the Esther Freud one (Lucky Break) - just didn't do anything for me.

DuchessofMalfi Thu 06-Dec-12 16:39:40

Aargh italics function fail!

HullyEastergully Thu 06-Dec-12 17:00:29

Mind you MM ignored my extremely insightful psychological analysis of why her book fell into two halves so frankly I wonder why I bother.

DuchessofMalfi Thu 06-Dec-12 18:06:43

Ah but I'm sure she did say she would happily answer further questions sent to her via her website, so maybe you could try there? Nice to have an approachable, friendly author willing to discuss their book.

I seem to recall vaguely that Jeffrey Eugenides' webchat didn't go quite so well, which was a shame. I liked that one.

HullyEastergully Thu 06-Dec-12 18:17:31

They mainly only like discussing it if you rave tho.

I think lovley ol Jeffrey missed his?

Tw1nkle Mon 10-Dec-12 19:36:40

The book sounds great - but the kindle price is MORE than the actual paperback - think I'll pass!

Jeffrey made his, just at the suitably celebby time of an hour after everyone else - but he still managed to answer a fair few questions, and not all of the arslikan sort...

Some of the best chats have been around books that deeply divided opinion. A D Miller's Snowdrops and Chrisos Tsiolkas The Slap were very busy, lively discussion nights. Both authors took a barrage of criticism, and they answered with thoughtful arguments on what they were trying to achieve, and why that might have failed or succeeded.

I think most bookclubbers have been fair and honest in their opinions, and the authors appreciate that - almost all of them emailed me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed the directness and intelligence of the discussion.

So keep posting, everyone, whatever you think of the book. If you loathe it, and can articulate that in a fair and balanced way, the author might be interested to engage with that. And you never know, you might get a pleasant surprise. I couldn't stand The Slap, but Christos became one of my all-time favourite guest authors...

HullyEastergully Wed 12-Dec-12 15:04:51

I missed The Slap one, but I liked the book very much. Even tho the sex was ludicrous and clearly written by a man that had never had at it with a woman...

Definitely worth looking at the Rachel Joyce website - particularly the video interview iand the page on how she tried writing lots of other things that never made it, before becoming totally gripped by expanding on this radio play To Be a Pilgrim....

HullyEastergully Fri 14-Dec-12 12:37:23

Tilly, see if you can get Helen DeWitt, I've just read her second book, Lightening Rods, (after The Last Samurai) she would be one interesting person...

Great tip, am on the case with Helen deWitt and will keep you posted...

fluffydog Tue 18-Dec-12 13:38:07

I have 2 books to finish first on my kindle but will download this one once I have finished those - have put it on my wishlist.

eatyourveg Mon 31-Dec-12 08:37:28

Santa brought this for me and I read it over 2 days - a real gem.

happynewmind Fri 04-Jan-13 11:05:58

Ahhh that explains the book through the door this morning, I had completely forgot and was very confused this morning blush

DuchessofMalfi Fri 04-Jan-13 13:47:45

Lovely surprise - I'd also forgotten, with Christmas and flu etc grin. Looking forward to reading it, although I've got to finish my current book first. Should have plenty of time to read both.

currybaby Fri 04-Jan-13 14:20:34

I've just got my book through the post and was also very confused for about 10 mins. Thought it must have been an xmas present that arrived late but i couldn't remember who i bought it for..

This is my first book club read so looking forward to joining in. Also got a nice quiet weekend ahead with OH out both nights and me in with the baby so perfect timing smile

Clawdy Fri 04-Jan-13 15:05:58

Mine arrived this morning - nice surprise!

gailforce1 Fri 04-Jan-13 16:49:07

Thank you to Transworld my copy arrived today. Looking forward to settling down for a good read!

jennywren123 Fri 04-Jan-13 23:13:19

Mine was waiting on the doorstep for me when I got home. Thank you! I've already started reading it.

Eirwen Sat 05-Jan-13 09:35:25

Mine arrived yesterday too. Lovely surprise as I had forgotten about it. Thanks, Transworld for your generosity. Looking forward to reading it.

Tw1nkle Sat 05-Jan-13 09:41:27

Fab - now half-price on the kindle!
Looking forward to reading this one!

bexyboo19 Sat 05-Jan-13 17:56:30

I got my book yesterday, which is great as I've no money and am not allowed to buy books for myself this year!! First time participating in this book club and I'm really excited as I started the book today and it's great so far! smile

hellohellohihi Sat 05-Jan-13 19:13:13

Ooh got this for my birthday way back in March so this is the perfect excuse to get bookwormy again as its been a while...! Plus I've never done a book club before! Excellent!

modernbear Sat 05-Jan-13 21:12:27

Received a copy yesterday morning. I could not put it down. Consequently, I have just finished it. It is good that I have an understanding husband. By the end I was in tears. I lost both parents quite young in relative terms. My mother to cancer. I know I would have walked a million miles to keep her alive.

I wonder if writing this particular work allowed Rachel Joyce to come to terms with something in her past, in some way mirroring Harold's literal journey?

whatphididnext Mon 07-Jan-13 17:31:36

ssh modernbear don't give the game away.

I am just over half way through and absolutely loving every page.
It's so nice to read a book that feels like every sentence is crafted with care.

Thank you so much Transworld and MN for my copy. thanks

whatphididnext Mon 07-Jan-13 17:36:01

Thank you for the link Tillybookclub

Abcinthia Mon 07-Jan-13 17:44:53

I'm halfway through and love it so far - I feel annoyed when I have to put it down.

I find it's really leaving an impression on me. Whenever I'm not reading it, it's not far from my thoughts. Not many books have that affect on me.

hellohellohihi Tue 08-Jan-13 06:34:39

Ooh, I'll be starting it this morning on the train! Yippee!

Happy New Year all...hope you had wonderful holidays.

Glad to see so many people riveted by Harold Fry. Keep putting your thoughts and questions up here, am keen to know what you think.

Abcinthia, the phrase you use ('not far from my thoughts' ) is exactly what happened to me - the book kept popping into my mind at random moments, and still does, even though I read it months ago.

Hullygully Wed 09-Jan-13 08:36:36

I have started. Wish I could stop picturing Harold from Neighbours plodding down the hawthorn hanging byways of England.

whatphididnext Wed 09-Jan-13 12:52:19

I am finding the plot deliciously unpredictable.

Hullygully Wed 09-Jan-13 15:36:05

Are you? Goodness.

surfandturf Thu 10-Jan-13 21:02:07

I'm almost a quarter of the way through and I'm finding it a bit slow - please tell me it gets better?

DuchessofMalfi Thu 10-Jan-13 21:34:25

I'm just about to start reading it - well, tomorrow now grin

whatphididnext Thu 10-Jan-13 22:52:24

I am not suggesting it's a Jack Reacher, but I am finding it enthralling in a gentle, sorrowful way.

I would keep at it, surfandturf. I wasn't impressed for the first bit but it gained momentum.

And yes, Hully, I had the parochial why am I reading sub-Bennet? at first.

Then it blossomed most gloriously.

Lumley36 Fri 11-Jan-13 05:24:45

Haven't been in the mindset to read for quite a few months, this book is a pleasure and has kept me reading. I love Harold and am hoping for a happy ending for him and his family....hope to finish tonight...

Clawdy Sat 12-Jan-13 11:13:12

Half-way through and pretty sure I know the twist....but hopefully might be wrong.

Hullygully Sat 12-Jan-13 14:05:06

Halfway through

There are bits that i like, and it has picked up a little, but I find the structure irritating

walk walk walk blister walk walk BACKSTORY HINT walk walk walk blister BACKSTORY HINT walk walk walk etc

Clawdy Sat 12-Jan-13 15:29:36

Harold's refusal to buy a pair of walking shoes really irritated me...didn't make sense.

gailforce1 Sat 12-Jan-13 15:55:33

Me too Clawdy! Also felt irritated that he didn't accept an ocassional lift for a few miles! I have finished and did enjoy overall but won't say any more in case of spoilers.

Hullygully Sat 12-Jan-13 17:03:18

I didn't mind that so much, the pain is part of the whole pilgrimage vibe, plus I have really been there with shops and looking at the sheer amount of stuff and just going off the whole thing.

theshooglypeg Sat 12-Jan-13 20:49:42

Hi everyone, this is my first venture into the Mumsnet book club. I read the book on my commute to work and really enjoyed it. I won't say anything else as I don't want to give anything away, but it did make my early January return to commuting more bearable!

whatphididnext Sun 13-Jan-13 09:53:55

I want us all to have finished the book so we can get down to discussing it.

I am finished but because I didn't predict the twist, I wonder if I would have read the book differently if i had had that knowledge at the start.

Anyway, I won't say more until we are all ready to discuss the book.

Clawdy Sun 13-Jan-13 11:26:35

Did guess the twist unfortunately...and near the end found myself wondering if he had a toothbrush on the journey...but having finished it have to say I was moved by the closing chapters.

Hullygully Sun 13-Jan-13 11:46:01

guessed twist too, it was quite moving at the end, I wanted a lot more from the rest.

it's all too light for me, l like something a bit more demanding

currybaby Sun 13-Jan-13 19:32:10

I'm half way through. I am enjoying it but I REALLY want him to get some bloomin walking boots.

I'm really intrigued about the twist now..! I'm trying to work out what it could be..

Hullygully Sun 13-Jan-13 19:57:33

I was also concerned by the spring and stream water he drank, hes lucky he didn't get pesticide runoff poisoning

HellesBelles396 Sun 13-Jan-13 22:26:59

Just read first chapter - great set up. Looking forward to reading the rest of the book.

Feeling a bit sorry for Maureen. I didn't until Harold starting thinking about her and how he'd wronged her. And now he's gone off without a word...

TallulahTwinkle Mon 14-Jan-13 10:05:26

Just picked my copy up from library, can't wait to start reading it. 9 other people waiting for it after me so better get reading grin

whatphididnext Mon 14-Jan-13 10:26:21

Hullygully what do you mean by more demanding?

What are you reading at the moment?

I have just started The Last Princess by Matthew Dennison and I am enjoying it, but wish it was written more as a story and less like, "these are all the facts I know, let me cram as many as I can into each paragraph"

Hullygully Mon 14-Jan-13 11:09:56

I like complex difficult books that demand concentration and immersion and reward you for the effort.

Having said that, I think Harold is fine as far as it goes, lots of people obvioulsy like it, I just like something with longer words ha ha

At the mo (since you ask) I am reading funny old Houllebeq's latest.

Hullygully Mon 14-Jan-13 12:24:34

Anyway, never mind all that, who cares what I like to read, let us do questions for Rachel.

Or will they be spoilers?

Should we wait?

whatphididnext Mon 14-Jan-13 12:25:44

Hullygully in French? ooh, impressive.

whatphididnext Mon 14-Jan-13 12:26:42

I think I will have to wait as all my questions feel like they are in danger of being spoilers and MNHQ would put me on the naughty step.

Clawdy Mon 14-Jan-13 12:27:41

Our book group's just finished Lermontov's Hero Of Our Time,we were divided but I loved it,have you read it,Hully?

Hullygully Mon 14-Jan-13 12:27:52

sadly not in French <all literary credentials wither and die>

Clawdy Mon 14-Jan-13 12:28:52

Sorry,back to Harold

Hullygully Mon 14-Jan-13 12:34:38

yes, but many yonks ago, I did love it then, I should reread. If only there were time...

Hullygully Mon 14-Jan-13 12:36:11

I just looked it up. How scary - I don't remember ONE SINGLE solitary thing about it.

Ashoething Mon 14-Jan-13 12:39:02

I really disliked his book. Thought it was full of cliched characters and I saw the so called "twist" coming a mile off. On a positive note I can see how it would work well on radio and I can also imagine it being made into a sunday tea time series...

DuchessofMalfi Mon 14-Jan-13 17:42:49

I'm about a third of the way atm. I like it, but so far it seems to be just wistful sad memories of Harold's unhappy marriage and failed relationship with his son. Too early to see the twist coming perhaps.

Just quick response to a few posts upthread: yes, feel free to keep discussing before the discussion night, and yes, do put up questions for Rachel - am sure there'll be a way of phrasing them without giving the game away.

I found this book very slow when I began, but it gathered depth and pace as I went on, and when I reached the end I felt it added up to something far more sustaining than I initially imagined.

I also kept returning to it in my mind (again, far more than I thought I would) once it was finished. A strong contrast to Song of Achilles, where I romped through the book enjoying the fun, turned the last page and then didn't particularly give it another thought.

I suppose I'm saying that although the writing wasn't pyrotechincally extraordinary or challenging, it did affect me strongly in a slow-burn manner. Perhaps the ordinariness of it all was what moved me.

happynewmind Tue 15-Jan-13 20:02:11

I came to post where the hell was Harold getting his money from as my mum and dad are retired on good pensions and couldn't afford the hotels/bed and breakfast/meals.

Then it mentioned the retirement fund two lines later..

HellesBelles396 Tue 15-Jan-13 20:02:53

cried through last few pages. really enjoyed this book. not something I would have picked up without mn book club so thank you to whoever chose it.

currybaby Tue 15-Jan-13 20:27:56

Just finished.. It certainly picked up more and more as the book went on and I really enjoyed it overall. Have loads to say but will wait to avoid spoilers!

happynewmind Tue 15-Jan-13 22:05:39

I'm about halfway, I know it would make no story but surely if he wanted to get to her in time he could have caught the train grin

Hullygully Wed 16-Jan-13 10:54:21

Hi Rachel,

I have thought about your book quite a lot, what puzzles me is that it is an interesting idea, pilgrimage as redemption etc, but the characters are, to me, less than fully realised. Harold is a bit more drawn, but Maureen is a cardboard cut out and I have no picture of her at all. She exists solely in relation to Harold's redemption. You may of course disagree!

I wonder if this is because of radio, or because Harold is to stand as an everyman? Or both?

Did the idea come before the characters? It feels more idea driven than character.

HellesBelles396 Wed 16-Jan-13 12:25:49

I thought the lightness of tone was akin to the way that one belittles things that happen in ones own life that would leave one aghast if recounted from someone else's life.

whatphididnext Thu 17-Jan-13 08:40:59

Hi Rachel.
I really enjoyed your book, thank you. I am looking forward to reading your next one.

I love stories that illustrate the quiet desperation of ordinary lives.

I thought your use of the net curtains in relation to Maureen was clever.

Why did you not expand more on Rex's situation? I felt there was enough there to have his story running parallel with Harold's story.

DuchessofMalfi Fri 18-Jan-13 10:51:18

I finished reading the book last night. I liked it, but didn't love it. I didn't see the twist coming at all. I was miles off, pondering whether Queenie was going to turn out to be Harold's sister after all and he'd never known grin grin.

Anyway, I thought that Harold's reasons for his pilgrimage were rather flimsy to begin with but which deepened as his journey progressed. Perhaps that is, in essence, what a pilgrimage is - a time for personal reflection.

I felt the novel wasn't just about Harold's journey. We saw Maureen gradually discover more about herself, come to terms with her grief, and learn to move on. In some ways, she had the greater emotional journey, to return to the love of her husband.

My question for Rachel Joyce is, as it is a novel essentially about personal reflection, do you think that would translate well into film or do you think that it's meaning would be lost?

DuchessofMalfi Fri 18-Jan-13 10:52:37

Its, not it's - oops blush

gazzalw Fri 18-Jan-13 19:42:10

Right, I've started and already intrigued. It starts in such a mundane way but I can see that it's going to build to something.....

It seems quite an easy read thus far so think I should have it read by the 29th....

Don't tease me with talk of a twist otherwise I will be tempted to read reviews and Google and spoil it for myself!

hippoCritt Sat 19-Jan-13 13:19:47

I waited for ages to get this book from the library then I was so disappointed when reading it, I perservered and I am glad I did, would not claim it as one of my favourite books but I'm glad I read it.

happynewmind Mon 21-Jan-13 12:49:23

I am also glad I read it but I feel the same, it was not my favourite book, I thought they could have expanded on the other characters, Rex and those he met on his journey or the Pilgrims more and especially on the nurse who took him into her home and obviously had an interesting story.

There were pages I skimmed through because it was a bit samey, similar to what Hully said with the walk walk blister hint walk walk comment.

I thought the idea of the story was good but there were silly bits for me that spoiled it. He apparently did not have time to sleep/eat because he wanted to carry on but then the next minute he is spending his time looking round places and shops in the city.

I understand why he became attached to his shoes at the end but at the beginning he wasn't and he was buying items for the journey he had money for shoes.

gaelicsheep Tue 22-Jan-13 22:51:15

Oh dear, got up to 13 January and sensed spoilers coming so I can't join in yet sad. About 3/4 of the way through just now. This is my first Mumsnet Bookclub thread, quite exciting!

gaelicsheep Wed 23-Jan-13 00:36:08

Ok, ready to join now. First impression, a book written with Sunday evening drama adaptation in mind. Bill Nighy or John Cleese as Harold perhaps? Jim Broadbent or similar as Rex? Throw in that Daisy woman as one of the hangers on - get my drift? That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, but it didn't live up to its initial promise. Too gentle and plodding really, too many possible avenues not explored.

HellesBelles396 Wed 23-Jan-13 09:49:36

I agree that it was a gentle book but I found it all the more moving for that. I would hate to see it adapted. Would they even be able to do it - so much is internal.

Thank you to everyone who has posted questions so far - just a reminder to others that we'll be sending over the advance questions to Rachel at the end of the week, so do keep posting them here...

Interesting contrast between this month's book and next month's (Gone Girl: also about a marriage on the rocks, opposite end of spectrum in terms of pace...)

gazzalw Wed 23-Jan-13 16:25:02

I have found this quite a discomforting read in some ways. Not at the end yet so will post questions/further comments when I have finished (should be by the weekend). It is gathering momentum for me as a read just as Harold did in his walk....

currybaby Wed 23-Jan-13 16:32:50

gaelicsheep that's not at all how i imagined rex - more a little neat man smile

I actually liked all the bits about how he was walking along. It made it easier for me to picture where he was and how the scenery changed as he got up north.

I loved the fact that Harold had done this in time to recover from his depression/what he was going through and have a good retirement with the lovely Maw!

I have a question, but its a complete spoiler. How do I do that? Can I message you directly tilly? I do hope to make the chat on the night though.

gazzalw Wed 23-Jan-13 16:40:56

I'm desperately trying to guess what the twist in the tale is - I must be obtuse....hmm

bexyboo19 Wed 23-Jan-13 20:07:13

I really enjoyed this - I don't think I'm going to be able to make the chat which is a shame but I thought that the book was great. I did get a bit annoyed when all the others joined him though, as turning it into a publicity stunt was so not what it was originally about!

I loved the writing style & have turned up about twenty pages with passages I particularly enjoyed. I don't know if I was being dense but I didn't see the twist coming. It wasn't a surprise because the entire book was setting us up for it, I thought, but still it was quite emotional. I also really liked the way that Harold's walk allows him and Maureen both to rediscover themselves :-)

gazzalw Wed 23-Jan-13 21:40:49

I'm getting an idea about the twist now....I'm desperately resisting cheating and googling the ending! grin

gaelicsheep Wed 23-Jan-13 23:16:10

Is there a point at which we can post questions that contain spoilers? The 28th say? I can't make the chat either.

gazzalw Thu 24-Jan-13 06:54:42

I'm not going to be devastated if you post questions with spoilers, gaelicsheep!grin

lilibet Thu 24-Jan-13 12:21:17

I'm 3/4's of the way through my second read, I first read it last May so wanted to refresh my memory of it.

I pictured Harold as Roald Dahl, I think there may be a problem with casting him for a TV series though ...

gazzalw Thu 24-Jan-13 12:32:50

Yes I see that because of the height thing...or maybe Richard E Grant in about 15 years time although not sure that he is right for a keeping his head down type role?

I'm going to make an executive decision and say if you can't make the chat, then you can post spoiler questions from now on - so anyone who doesn't want to know the ending should perhaps LOOK AWAY NOW and then come back on Tuesday night...

Sad for those who can't make it next week, but do post your questions now and Rachel will be sure to answer them when we kick off the chat.

gazzalw Thu 24-Jan-13 16:21:26

Hmmm I'm still being obtuse but guess the twist is either to do with what Harold did which Queenie took the rap for or her true identity...or a combination of the two...Is the fact that she gives him chocolates indicative of a parental relationship???

CuriousMama Thu 24-Jan-13 20:33:58

I got it from the library. It had me gripped all the way through. Won't say too much as it'd spoil it for those yet to read it. It's unique imo.

Laughed and cried in equal amounts. As did Dp.

CuriousMama Thu 24-Jan-13 20:35:12

Well if we can talk about it, their son shock sad I still haven't quite got over that tbh. <lump in throat>

CuriousMama Thu 24-Jan-13 20:35:59

And he goes to my home town grin

gaelicsheep Thu 24-Jan-13 21:51:09

gazzalw - don't get your hopes up, you probably already know without quite registering it.

gaelicsheep Thu 24-Jan-13 21:58:19

OK, if we can post questions, I'd like to ask Rachel Joyce what made her decide to suddenly become so graphic in her detail at the end of the book? For me it underlines the futility of the whole exercise, but also makes it seem that if Harold's walking had any effect all, it in fact rather cruelly prolonged someone's agony. This latter aspect left me rather ambivalent about the whole book - I wonder if that is intentional?
Secondly, if I may but don't mind if it isn't answered, does Rachel feel, in hindsight, that including the groupies in the book was a mistake?

gazzalw Fri 25-Jan-13 08:05:57

I am feeling very obtuse - there's obviously something about David....

southlondonlady Fri 25-Jan-13 09:48:27

Agree this is a slow burn, I did find it very moving but lots is left unexplained. A key factor in the breakdown of their marriage seemed to be their isolation, they didn't have anyone to support them when the worst happened. My question is why had they made themselves so isolated? I didn't think was really explained in the book.

lilibet Fri 25-Jan-13 10:06:59

gaelicsheep I had never thought of that - of him prolonging someone's agony, but you're quite right.

NuffinlikeaPuffin Fri 25-Jan-13 12:37:58

My Sister has recently given me a signed copy of this book after raving about it ever since she read it. I'm loving it so far.

In fact she did more than rave about it - she works for Waterstones and created a huge window display where she'd hand drawn an enormous map and she wrapped some of your books up in little maps so that people could buy them and give them as gifts or just have something a little extra special for themselves. She's really clever and I'm very proud of her. I think you met her when you did a signing in her store smile

My question is - what's the nicest response you've had to this book and which is the most bizarre? Have they all been positive?

currybaby Fri 25-Jan-13 13:33:42

I didn't see it as prolonging her agony. She was obviously very lonely and when she did die she was happy and was aware that someone dear to her been with her. I liked that.

I guessed about David from about a third of the way in. But I think that was supposed to happen? It became so obvious towards the end. He was doing so much out of his comfort zone but he still didn't contact him, and David didn't see him in the news and try and contact him.

The twist for me was Queenie's condition at the end. I wasn't really expecting that.

I loved the book. Someone has already said it but I would have loved to have known what happened to the woman doctor, and whether he helped her move on with her life.

Question for Rachel - did you do any walking as part of your research and if so which bits of the walk did you do?

CuriousMama Sat 26-Jan-13 01:38:42

I agree currybaby, was so lovely when Queenie experienced the recognition, very spiritual.

gazzalw Sat 26-Jan-13 08:31:49

I finished reading it last night. I found that as Harold became disheartened near the end of his pilgrimage I was actually gathering momentum in my interest in the book.

I seem to recall from English O Level that we used to discuss the picaresque novel, a journey and this quietly but beautifully epitimised the emotional and physical. I very much loved the walk. I have holidayed in the Kingsbridge part of Devon and the Northumbrian part of the journey is my home turf so I could picture Harold doing his walk and it made it seem more real. I physically felt as if I was there with him all the way.

I loved the amazing array of characters he met along the way and yes felt that for whatever reason the Slovakian doctor played a beautiful part in helping the story to progress. I am not sure why but I get the feeling that a lot of Mumsnetters, like me, would be rooting for her to have a better life.

In almost seemed to me that Queenie was Harold's guardian angel. She saved him from total melt-down after David's death, but then helped him save his marriage and 'wake up' from his inertia and twenty year depression. In a way she seemed to be like the mother he never had. In fact all the talk of twists in the tale made me suspect (wrongly) that Queenie was his mother who had come back in a totally different guise to look after him. It was all the talk of her providing him with chocolate goodies on their work-related trips that made me think that.

I didn't entirely anticipate that Queenie was going to be at death's door when Harold arrived. One question for Rachel is to ask why Queenie had to have been so ravaged by cancer that she seemed more monster than human? I do appreciate that cancer whittles away at people until they are shadows of their former selves (and perhaps this description related to her memories of her father's death sad) but I am not sure that after all the emotional pain that Harold suffered (in allowing his suppressed feelings to come out in the course of his walk) that he really needed quite such a shocking meeting/resolution with Queenie. Or was it a case of him having to stare at the worst of life and death (in what had happened to Queenie and David) to complete his catharsis and fully enable him to move on with his life and Maureen.

I think it is one of those novels that will stick with one for a long time. I found it quite discomforting and challenging in a way that seemed at odds with the way in which the novel started - it all seemed so suburban and normal. A bit like a David Lynch film with the veneer of everyday life hiding ghosts and ugliness. I think we can all be capable of sinking into inertia in our lives and relationships and it is sad but true that often it takes some type of bereavement/catastrophe to wake us from this state.

I think it would make a fabulous film - have you had any approaches from film companies yet, Rachel?

HellesBelles396 Sat 26-Jan-13 15:59:16

My question is about Queenie and Maureen: they have such contrasting views of Harold at the beginning of the story. Queenie thinks of Harold as a good and kind man while Maureen sees him as distant and cold. Over the course of the story though, she comes to see him more as Queenie had and, of course, so do many others. Yet, he was doing something that could be seen as very selfish as he had abandoned his responsibilities and was walking as much out of his own need for redemption as for Queenie's survival.

What reasoning did you ascribe to Maureen - beyond what is written in the book - as you put together that element of the story?

Thank you for writing this book, btw, it really moved me while being enjoyable.

Clawdy Sun 27-Jan-13 15:13:09

I remember last year reading about the poet Simon Armitage walking the entire Pennine Way,about 250 miles,relying totally on the kindness of strangers to give him a bed for the night, and poetry reading in pubs en route followed by passing a hat round for donations! I was reminded of this while reading about Harold's journey. Have you heard of anyone doing something similar?

SunshinePanda Sun 27-Jan-13 20:28:58

Rachel, I enjoyed getting to know Harold even though his actions infuriated me at times! I was struck by the impact of Harold's physical and emotional journey on his wife, more than on himself, without her being involved in walking on the pilgrimage. How important was Maureen's emotional journey to you when writing?

DestinationCalabria Mon 28-Jan-13 00:34:09

Hello Rachel
I am up now when I should be asleep but can't make the chat on Tuesday as am out and about unusually for me..
I v much enjoyed the book though they were bits like sunshine panda that ANNOYED me about Harold.
And did not guess about David
Anyway, I have always wanted to write for radio (but like those with novels in drawers) never done anything about it -
What was hard about making the transition between the two?

Excellent advance questions, everyone - thank you. I've forwarded them all to Rachel and looking forward to her answers when we kick off tomorrow night.

Has been particularly enjoyable having such a wealth of discussion, pre-author chat. Just want to encourage everyone to feel free to talk about the books throughout the month (know it is hard with spoilers, particularly with February's GONE GIRL, but hopefully we can do it without giving too much away)

See you 9pm tomorrow...

lilibet Mon 28-Jan-13 19:34:33

Hi Rachel

Thanks for coming to mumsnet and thanks for writing such a thought provoking book. I was bought it for my birthday in May and have pressed it on several people since then, who have all loved it, including my husband.

What differences did you find in writing for radio and writing a novel, did you picture the characters in the same way? I never really connect with a book or a radio play unless I cast the people in my head, if I can't find a face for a main character, chances are that I won't get along with the book. I cast everyone in Harold Fry! (if you need my services for any movie or tv adaptaion, I can be contacted through mumsnet wink )

jennywren123 Mon 28-Jan-13 20:28:49

Desperately trying to finish the book before tomorrow!!!

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 06:12:19

TillyBookClub

Excellent advance questions, everyone - thank you. I've forwarded them all to Rachel and looking forward to her answers when we kick off tomorrow night.

Has been particularly enjoyable having such a wealth of discussion, pre-author chat. Just want to encourage everyone to feel free to talk about the books throughout the month (know it is hard with spoilers, particularly with February's GONE GIRL, but hopefully we can do it without giving too much away)

See you 9pm tomorrow...

Just doing a small test! Looking forward to speaking to you later..

gazzalw Tue 29-Jan-13 07:10:19

You can tell you're a parent up and working at 6.12 amgrin

MummyBarrow Tue 29-Jan-13 09:42:49

Really looking forward to seeing Rachel talk tonight. I have been a huge fan of Harold since I first heard about him last year. An unputtdownable read.

I also managed to meet Rachel after hearing her read from the book in Cirencester last year.

I won't post any spoilers but Rachel knows why this book really struck a chord with me and why I passionately love Harold.

here's to 9pm!

gazzalw Tue 29-Jan-13 10:17:57

Sounds intriguing, MummyBarrow....

I've had a long think about this and I think 'journey' novels are possibly the ones I find most interesting and easy to read. An entirely different type of novel to The Sisters Brothers, but it's that same emotional and physical roll-out with the array of different characters, all of whom impact on the one(s) doing the journey....

I definitely felt I was sitting on Harold's shoulder for the entirety of his journey and loved most of it.

Belo Tue 29-Jan-13 10:31:37

For only the 2nd time ever I've finished a book in time!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and agreed with the other posters that it picked up its momentum as it went through.

My questions/comments are... I didn't guess about David. It came as a shock to me in the same way that finding out about the husbands death in We need to talk about Kevin did. Was that book an influence on you Rachel?

I would like to have heard more about Maureen - she seemed to have come on quite a journey herself, but it would have been nicer to have had her turned into a fuller character. And, Rex, it appeared that he was only there to try and pull Maureen out of herself. Was there a reason that you didn't expand these characters, and give them more of a role?

Jossysgiants Tue 29-Jan-13 11:28:57

gaelicssheep I know it's a while since you posted your comment, but just wanted to say after finishing the book last night I was left with the same ambivalence as you, for the same reason. I am also interested in Maureen- while Harold was the one walking, Maureen was the one who had a stronger journey in my view. She was the one who had stepped away from their lives, more than he had.

gaelicsheep Tue 29-Jan-13 13:01:43

That's interesting Jossygiants, I was starting to think it was just me! I have to go away for a few nights with no internet access unfortunately, but I will look forward to reading this thread when I'm back! Enjoy yourselves everyone. :-)

RSVP Tue 29-Jan-13 15:34:23

Thanks a lot for the copy!

Hi Rachel,
I am very much enjoying reading the book, but haven't managed to finish it yet. I do have a question though and I hope it makes sense:

'he felt he had already broken an unspoken English rule in asking for help' (p.62, emphasis added)

I think that's absolutely spot on! Why do you think that is? Especially as there is no shortage of offering help, e.g. the woman did help Harold....

I am not English but DH and his parents are. Of all cultural differences this one is bugging me most. Why is it so wrong to admit being in need?

Eirwen Tue 29-Jan-13 15:49:50

Thank you so much for the free book. I didn't get around to starting it until the snowy weekend. The evening we had planned on the Saturday was cancelled due to the snow so I sat down and began reading in late afternoon. I couldn't put it down ! I finished it at 3 a.m. on Sunday and it has been on my mind ever since. It reminds me of some 'not talking' within my own extended family after a bereavement, sadly, which carried on unresolved for many years.

Like Gazzalw, I was with Harold all of the way, feeling the pain of every blister and of all the past wasted years. Both David's suicide and Queenie's sad state of health came as a shock. I would love to hear more of Rex and the nurse and maybe some of the other pilgrims. Any thoughts of a sequel?

Thanks for a fantastic book which I will recommend to anyone who is interested.

fifide Tue 29-Jan-13 19:37:04

Once again I am only half way through! After a slow start I am just beginning to enjoy Harold's journey. The moments of human interaction as Harold makes his way are bitter sweet and very touching. I am looking forward to reading more.
I won't be here for the chat (fearing spoilers!) but thank you Rachel for writing the book and hope it goes well tonight.

Belo Tue 29-Jan-13 20:43:54

I've been thinking about this more during the course of the day. I like the way that Harold learns to communicate with his wife again by his interaction with strangers. I think that is very true. You can start afresh with new people, you don't have the history. The people whom he met helped build his confidence and enabled him to be himself with Maureen.

gailforce1 Tue 29-Jan-13 20:51:01

Hi Rachel. Thank you for coming to chat to us. I would like to ask which authors or books do you choose to read?

jennywren123 Tue 29-Jan-13 20:54:41

I've just finished, with 15 minutes to spare! I really enjoyed learning about Harold and loved that he was so "British" - wearing his shirt and tie, not wanting to talk too much about his feelings and generally being over-polite and maybe a bit of a pushover because of that.

I didn't enjoy the section with the other "pilgrims" joining him as much as the lone parts of his walk. It annoyed me that he allowed them to distract him from his walk. I would like to know what happened to Wilf though.

I was hoping towards the end that we would find out more about Queenie and her life before and after working in the Brewery. I thought she might have been a sister of Harold's that he didn't know existed.

Thanks again for a lovely read - very enjoyable.

MummyBarrow Tue 29-Jan-13 20:55:20

Is Rachel here yet? is she here yet?

<plonks self on sofa with a glass of wine>

Hi Rachel. Hope you are well.

Evening everyone,

Bookclub 2013 has certainly got off to a roaring start - 134 posts and we haven't even begun the actual chat yet...

I am delighted that Rachel is joining us tonight to talk about her writing, her inspiration and the events that led her to write THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY.

We already have many questions to get through, so off we go...

Rachel, firstly, thank you very much indeed for taking the time to be here. And many congratulations on a beautifully written, moving book. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through all the posts above may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions (which we like to ask all authors):

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Over to you...

gaelicsheep Tue 29-Jan-13 21:00:15

I made it after all!

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:02:32

TillyBookClub

Evening everyone,

Bookclub 2013 has certainly got off to a roaring start - 134 posts and we haven't even begun the actual chat yet...

I am delighted that Rachel is joining us tonight to talk about her writing, her inspiration and the events that led her to write THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY.

We already have many questions to get through, so off we go...

Rachel, firstly, thank you very much indeed for taking the time to be here. And many congratulations on a beautifully written, moving book. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through all the posts above may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions (which we like to ask all authors):

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Over to you...

Hello, everyone. Thank you for inviting me to be part of this. I’m admitting to you now that I have never done it before – so please bear with me. I have read through the whole thread very carefully, though, taking in all your comments - and I promise to answer as frankly and simply as I can.

As for those first two questions, my favourite childhood book might have to be The Didakoi by Rumer Godden. I read it again with my youngest daughter recently and she was enthralled. I loved reading as a child. I was unhappy sometimes and very willing to believe in things I didn’t know.

As for writing advice; don’t give up. That’s my advice. Keep going even when you want to shout or cry, you are so frustrated with it. For me, writing the book was like being Harold. (And I often saw my journey as parallel to his.) It stands to reason that if you keep going, you will get there.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:05:08

modernbear

Received a copy yesterday morning. I could not put it down. Consequently, I have just finished it. It is good that I have an understanding husband. By the end I was in tears. I lost both parents quite young in relative terms. My mother to cancer. I know I would have walked a million miles to keep her alive.

I wonder if writing this particular work allowed Rachel Joyce to come to terms with something in her past, in some way mirroring Harold's literal journey?

Hello modernbear, I have been very open about the fact I began this story when I found out my father was dying from cancer. I knew I would never tell him and also knew he would not live long enough to find out. I was right about both things. So yes, the story was my way of dealing with my wild and complicated grief. Even though I didn’t quite see it at the time, it makes sense to me now that – as I was losing my dad – I wrote about a man who tries to keep someone else alive.
I am sorry about your parents – but I suppose at least we both understand in some way what the other feels? The book has never replaced my dad, but it helped me to move from a very painful place.
I still miss him terribly. I wish he would walk into the room right now.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:07:35

Hullygully

Hi Rachel,

I have thought about your book quite a lot, what puzzles me is that it is an interesting idea, pilgrimage as redemption etc, but the characters are, to me, less than fully realised. Harold is a bit more drawn, but Maureen is a cardboard cut out and I have no picture of her at all. She exists solely in relation to Harold's redemption. You may of course disagree!

I wonder if this is because of radio, or because Harold is to stand as an everyman? Or both?

Did the idea come before the characters? It feels more idea driven than character.

Hello Hullygully, I am sad you feel the characters are cardboard and cut out – but of course I’m not going to agree with you..! I feel that the big detail is in the smallest things. Personally I don’t like books that ‘tell’ me too much. I want to find out for myself about the character, within the context of his or her interaction with other people, their environment, etc. We can’t all like the same thing, though. That’s why we must never stop trying to tell stories, I think.
For me the characters were there from the start. I heard, saw, and felt them very clearly. I didn’t think of any of them as representations of anything but I suppose it isn’t my job to see them in that way.

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 21:09:57

Hello Rachel, I adored TUPOHF. Cried buckets and still feel weepy when I think of it. Dp also cried especially when he read their son had died. I did have an inkling to be honest.

I'd like to ask if you have any tips on the structure of writing a novel? I'm tempted to buy a writing kit but not sure if I really need one? I did buy one before but lost it in a house move but hadn't really tried using it. Or maybe I should carry a large notebook around and take notes?

I'd rather be a script writer but would love to attempt a novel.

Good luck in your future and look forward to your next works smile

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:10:03

whatphididnext

Hi Rachel.
I really enjoyed your book, thank you. I am looking forward to reading your next one.

I love stories that illustrate the quiet desperation of ordinary lives.

I thought your use of the net curtains in relation to Maureen was clever.

Why did you not expand more on Rex's situation? I felt there was enough there to have his story running parallel with Harold's story.

Hello whatphididnext; and thank you.

As a matter of fact, I wrote a lot more of Rex and in the end it had to go because I felt the story had to keep moving forward. But Rex has one of the key lines in the book - the one about grief, about the fact that it is a hole at our feet and at first we keep falling in, but in time we learn how to walk round it - and for me he is pivotal in helping Maureen to understand Harold and accept the past. He's a good man, is Rex.

But it isn't his book. I think he would understand that.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:12:02

DuchessofMalfi

I finished reading the book last night. I liked it, but didn't love it. I didn't see the twist coming at all. I was miles off, pondering whether Queenie was going to turn out to be Harold's sister after all and he'd never known grin grin.

Anyway, I thought that Harold's reasons for his pilgrimage were rather flimsy to begin with but which deepened as his journey progressed. Perhaps that is, in essence, what a pilgrimage is - a time for personal reflection.

I felt the novel wasn't just about Harold's journey. We saw Maureen gradually discover more about herself, come to terms with her grief, and learn to move on. In some ways, she had the greater emotional journey, to return to the love of her husband.

My question for Rachel Joyce is, as it is a novel essentially about personal reflection, do you think that would translate well into film or do you think that it's meaning would be lost?

MummyBarrow Tue 29-Jan-13 21:12:03

Rachel, anything you can tell us about your next book? Many of us are waiting in anticipation!

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:13:18

DuchessofMalfi

I finished reading the book last night. I liked it, but didn't love it. I didn't see the twist coming at all. I was miles off, pondering whether Queenie was going to turn out to be Harold's sister after all and he'd never known grin grin.

Anyway, I thought that Harold's reasons for his pilgrimage were rather flimsy to begin with but which deepened as his journey progressed. Perhaps that is, in essence, what a pilgrimage is - a time for personal reflection.

I felt the novel wasn't just about Harold's journey. We saw Maureen gradually discover more about herself, come to terms with her grief, and learn to move on. In some ways, she had the greater emotional journey, to return to the love of her husband.

My question for Rachel Joyce is, as it is a novel essentially about personal reflection, do you think that would translate well into film or do you think that it's meaning would be lost?

Hello Duchessofmalfi, (OOPS posted too quickly just now)

I just want to pick up on what you say about Maureen because I agree with you. Her journey is - for me - as big as Harold's; maybe even bigger because she doesn't ask to make it, and she has to do it within the confines of four walls. I thought a lot about my mum and me and my sisters when I wrote Maureen, after my dad's death. There were days it was a struggle to get up. But this is the joy for me of Harold and Maureen. They are still alive. If they can rectify the hideous mistakes they have made, there is still another chance. They can find their way back to loving.

As for the film, who knows? Books can get lost in films or they can find a new meaning. I like to think Harold is in safe hands. I saw the story and the landscape very clearly as I was writing and a few film makers have mentioned that.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:15:36

gaelicsheep

OK, if we can post questions, I'd like to ask Rachel Joyce what made her decide to suddenly become so graphic in her detail at the end of the book? For me it underlines the futility of the whole exercise, but also makes it seem that if Harold's walking had any effect all, it in fact rather cruelly prolonged someone's agony. This latter aspect left me rather ambivalent about the whole book - I wonder if that is intentional?
Secondly, if I may but don't mind if it isn't answered, does Rachel feel, in hindsight, that including the groupies in the book was a mistake?

Hello gaelicsheep,

Look, I'm going to be really blunt and honest with you. When my dad died he had a tumor growing out of his face that was nearly the size of a football. It was almost unbearable to witness. He would go to the post office to buy a stamp and people couldn't understand a word he was saying - or they stared, maybe laughed - but he kept trying to be like the rest of us. He wanted to be ordinary. He did not want to be a man with his face distorted by cancer. He didn't want to be dying. So if you have seen that, and you are writing about cancer, you can't soften that up. Besides, life is sometimes graphic in the most appalling ways.

And no, I don't regret the groupies. A few people have said they get annoyed by them - but that is good - they are very annoying people. They are loud, selfish, and most of them are acting on very different motives from Harold's. They are there, however, because if they weren't, Harold and the reader would remain in a bubble. For me, the groupies are the misunderstanding voices that he has to learn to bear.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:18:24

[quote southlondonlady]Agree this is a slow burn, I did find it very moving but lots is left unexplained. A key factor in the breakdown of their marriage seemed to be their isolation, they didn't have anyone to support them when the worst happened. My question is why had they made themselves so isolated? I didn't think was really explained in the book.

Hello southlondonlady,

It is in the book, but it is there quietly because I don’t like to spell things out. And this is a personal thing, but I like to be able to work things out when I read.

Harold and Maureen don’t know how to deal with their colossal pain. It is too big. They were brought up after the war – Harold’s father was prone to depression, his mother left when he was a teenager – so no one taught him how to talk. In time, it becomes easier to not speak than speak. I think for some people, life is like that.

To speak their grief is to admit it happened, that they could not stop it – and this is Maureen’s journey in the book. The acceptance of David’s loss.

hippoCritt Tue 29-Jan-13 21:18:37

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!

michelle1979 Tue 29-Jan-13 21:19:04

Hi Rachel,

I don't have any questions, just wanted to congratulate you on your novel, I found parts of it extremely moving and perceptive. So very sorry about the loss of your Dad.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:19:52

[quote NuffinlikeaPuffin]My Sister has recently given me a signed copy of this book after raving about it ever since she read it. I'm loving it so far.

In fact she did more than rave about it - she works for Waterstones and created a huge window display where she'd hand drawn an enormous map and she wrapped some of your books up in little maps so that people could buy them and give them as gifts or just have something a little extra special for themselves. She's really clever and I'm very proud of her. I think you met her when you did a signing in her store smile

My question is - what's the nicest response you've had to this book and which is the most bizarre? Have they all been positive?

Hello NuffinlikeaPuffin,

I loved your sister’s map! It was beautiful. I loved too that she had taken the book and made something of her own with it. She asked me to sign it and I was so worried about making a mark on something so special.

What I never knew when I sat for a year in my shed, writing my book, was that anyone would ‘get’ this story. And I accept that some people don’t – of course I do. It can’t please everyone. But the warmth of some people, and their generosity too, in telling me about their own lives has been completely unexpected and very, very moving. I have received some extraordinary letters. Bookshops have made ‘Harold’ window displays, with yachting boots and maps and postcards. As for the most bizarre.. hmm. There was a man in my local bookshop who told me he was coming to a book signing NOT to buy my book (it didn’t appeal to him, he said) but to tell me I look better in real life than in my photo.

I liked him very much.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:21:15

[quote currybaby]I didn't see it as prolonging her agony. She was obviously very lonely and when she did die she was happy and was aware that someone dear to her been with her. I liked that.

I guessed about David from about a third of the way in. But I think that was supposed to happen? It became so obvious towards the end. He was doing so much out of his comfort zone but he still didn't contact him, and David didn't see him in the news and try and contact him.

The twist for me was Queenie's condition at the end. I wasn't really expecting that.

I loved the book. Someone has already said it but I would have loved to have known what happened to the woman doctor, and whether he helped her move on with her life.

Question for Rachel - did you do any walking as part of your research and if so which bits of the walk did you do?

Hello currybaby,

I am going to answer your point about the woman doctor quickly – because I grew very fond of her too. And I have my own imagined ending for her (just as I know the lines of the joke that Harold and Maureen share at the end) –but the point is that Harold doesn’t know how her story ends, and this story is told from his (and Maureen’s perspective.) For me to resolve her story, I felt, would be too neat and a cheat. Besides, life doesn’t go like that. We often don’t get to hear the whole story – only the beginning or the middle or the end.

As for the walking, yes, I walk a lot. I walk to think. But I have four children and if I had started Harold’s walk I would have had to stop every day at the same point to get home and do a school run. So I used what I know - and a lot of the places Harold visits I know – and then I imagined from there.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:22:38

[quote gazzalw]I finished reading it last night. I found that as Harold became disheartened near the end of his pilgrimage I was actually gathering momentum in my interest in the book.

I seem to recall from English O Level that we used to discuss the picaresque novel, a journey and this quietly but beautifully epitimised the emotional and physical. I very much loved the walk. I have holidayed in the Kingsbridge part of Devon and the Northumbrian part of the journey is my home turf so I could picture Harold doing his walk and it made it seem more real. I physically felt as if I was there with him all the way.

I loved the amazing array of characters he met along the way and yes felt that for whatever reason the Slovakian doctor played a beautiful part in helping the story to progress. I am not sure why but I get the feeling that a lot of Mumsnetters, like me, would be rooting for her to have a better life.

In almost seemed to me that Queenie was Harold's guardian angel. She saved him from total melt-down after David's death, but then helped him save his marriage and 'wake up' from his inertia and twenty year depression. In a way she seemed to be like the mother he never had. In fact all the talk of twists in the tale made me suspect (wrongly) that Queenie was his mother who had come back in a totally different guise to look after him. It was all the talk of her providing him with chocolate goodies on their work-related trips that made me think that.

I didn't entirely anticipate that Queenie was going to be at death's door when Harold arrived. One question for Rachel is to ask why Queenie had to have been so ravaged by cancer that she seemed more monster than human? I do appreciate that cancer whittles away at people until they are shadows of their former selves (and perhaps this description related to her memories of her father's death sad) but I am not sure that after all the emotional pain that Harold suffered (in allowing his suppressed feelings to come out in the course of his walk) that he really needed quite such a shocking meeting/resolution with Queenie. Or was it a case of him having to stare at the worst of life and death (in what had happened to Queenie and David) to complete his catharsis and fully enable him to move on with his life and Maureen.

I think it is one of those novels that will stick with one for a long time. I found it quite discomforting and challenging in a way that seemed at odds with the way in which the novel started - it all seemed so suburban and normal. A bit like a David Lynch film with the veneer of everyday life hiding ghosts and ugliness. I think we can all be capable of sinking into inertia in our lives and relationships and it is sad but true that often it takes some type of bereavement/catastrophe to wake us from this state.

I think it would make a fabulous film - have you had any approaches from film companies yet, Rachel?

Hello gazzalw,

You have said so many things that mean a lot to me. (By the way, my husband comes from Kingsbridge!) As I said earlier, for me the extraordinary things are most moving when we see and hear them in the mouths of ordinary people. (And I think of myself as very ordinary.) We don’t know things are big until after they have happened. So that is why the beginning of the book is so small and cliché’d and ordinary. You could walk past Harold and Maureen and not care, not notice them. After all, we do that every day. But I hope there is something about their courage, their humility that draws us in.

I hope I have already answered why I made the choices I did about Queenie. And does Harold prolong her agony? I think that’s debatable. Everyone else wants him to get there and save Queenie but we only step inside her head right at the end. He gives her a quartz and it fills the room with light as she dies. She isn’t quite sure she even really saw him – but she is letting go. She is able to let go. My dad didn’t want to die right until the end. He only died when he was ready to let go of us, when my back was turned.

As for films, yes, there was a lot of interest. At one point there were over fifteen companies, I think, ringing and telling me why they should make it. But we went with a British company and the director Sarah Gavron. Her ideas for the film are beautiful. So all fingers crossed, please.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:24:05

[quote HellesBelles396]My question is about Queenie and Maureen: they have such contrasting views of Harold at the beginning of the story. Queenie thinks of Harold as a good and kind man while Maureen sees him as distant and cold. Over the course of the story though, she comes to see him more as Queenie had and, of course, so do many others. Yet, he was doing something that could be seen as very selfish as he had abandoned his responsibilities and was walking as much out of his own need for redemption as for Queenie's survival.

What reasoning did you ascribe to Maureen - beyond what is written in the book - as you put together that element of the story?

Thank you for writing this book, btw, it really moved me while being enjoyable.

Hello HellesBelles,

I am glad you were moved. The thing about the story for me – about any story in fact – is that in the opening scene we can ask ourselves, What is the thing here that has to change? Clearly there is stalemate in this marriage. I don’t think Harold consciously knows when he sets off that he is walking to save many things – himself, the past, the loss of his son, his marriage – but for me these things are all there. Maureen and Harold have shared a terrible, terrible secret. It has become easier for Maureen to blame him than admit her awful pain. She feels angry about that too. Even when she thinks a kind thought about him, she can’t express it. That has become their shared language. This dead relationship.

Her softening is one of the bits of the book I most proud of – her moment with her dresses and his suits, for instance. I was very happy when I found that inside my head.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:24:57

[quote Clawdy]I remember last year reading about the poet Simon Armitage walking the entire Pennine Way,about 250 miles,relying totally on the kindness of strangers to give him a bed for the night, and poetry reading in pubs en route followed by passing a hat round for donations! I was reminded of this while reading about Harold's journey. Have you heard of anyone doing something similar?

Hello Clawdy,

I loved that book! I read it after Harold Fry came out. And no, I don’t know anyone like that. I wish I did, but I’m a pretty quiet, introspective person. If I met him I would probably smile a lot and rush away.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:25:48

[quote SunshinePanda]Rachel, I enjoyed getting to know Harold even though his actions infuriated me at times! I was struck by the impact of Harold's physical and emotional journey on his wife, more than on himself, without her being involved in walking on the pilgrimage. How important was Maureen's emotional journey to you when writing?

Hello SunshinePanda,

I think I may have answered this, but I agree with you. Maureen’s journey was very important to me, not least – as I said earlier – because she is the person left behind. It is maybe easier to re-examine and change the past when you are out of your context and away from your stuff. She doesn’t have any of that.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:27:07

[quote DestinationCalabria]Hello Rachel
I am up now when I should be asleep but can't make the chat on Tuesday as am out and about unusually for me..
I v much enjoyed the book though they were bits like sunshine panda that ANNOYED me about Harold.
And did not guess about David
Anyway, I have always wanted to write for radio (but like those with novels in drawers) never done anything about it -
What was hard about making the transition between the two?

Hello DestinationCalabria,

It wasn’t actually very hard. I have wanted to write a book for years – in fact I have written prose all my life, and hidden it away. The play was the bare bones of the story. (The budget would only stretch as far as three actors!) It was in writing the book that I felt I had the opportunity to dig deeper and use all those things like landscape, back story, other people, memory. It was very liberating. Through radio, I have spent years telling story in dialogue; using what people choose to say, as opposed to them just dishing out the story, so that the listener can piece together the bigger picture. Writing a book was like having a whole new set of colours to work with.

(PS Write that play.)

BownhillBaby Tue 29-Jan-13 21:29:08

Hi Rachel

I wondered if you could say something about your process of putting a book together - whether you get things right first time or go through a series of drafts. I'd also be really interested to know if you had all your plot points clear before you got going or if they were revealed on your own journey.

Thanks!

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:29:11

[quote Eirwen]Thank you so much for the free book. I didn't get around to starting it until the snowy weekend. The evening we had planned on the Saturday was cancelled due to the snow so I sat down and began reading in late afternoon. I couldn't put it down ! I finished it at 3 a.m. on Sunday and it has been on my mind ever since. It reminds me of some 'not talking' within my own extended family after a bereavement, sadly, which carried on unresolved for many years.

Like Gazzalw, I was with Harold all of the way, feeling the pain of every blister and of all the past wasted years. Both David's suicide and Queenie's sad state of health came as a shock. I would love to hear more of Rex and the nurse and maybe some of the other pilgrims. Any thoughts of a sequel?

Thanks for a fantastic book which I will recommend to anyone who is interested.[

Hello Eirwen,

A few people have asked if there would be a sequel. Someone even suggested I should write Harold and Maureen’s bus journey home.. But actually I have let them go their way – maybe via the Cotswolds, maybe Holt where they spent their honeymoon. I felt I had to let them go. Or maybe they had to let me go. I’m not sure which. I have just finished my second book, though, so my head is full of that too. In fact my daughter said to me the other day, “Mum, who do you love best? Harold Fry? Or Byron?” (The boy-hero of my next book). And I said to her, “Well, Harold has lots of people to look after him now and Byron has only me so I have to say Byron.”

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:30:24

[quote RSVP]Thanks a lot for the copy!

Hi Rachel,
I am very much enjoying reading the book, but haven't managed to finish it yet. I do have a question though and I hope it makes sense:

'he felt he had already broken an unspoken English rule in asking for help' (p.62, emphasis added)

I think that's absolutely spot on! Why do you think that is? Especially as there is no shortage of offering help, e.g. the woman did help Harold....

I am not English but DH and his parents are. Of all cultural differences this one is bugging me most. Why is it so wrong to admit being in need?

Hello RSVP,

I think it is often to do with generation. But I think too that (in some English people,) there is a sense that you are expected to be able to manage everything and that if you can’t, it is shameful to admit you are out of your depth.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:33:46

RSVP

Thanks a lot for the copy!

Hi Rachel,
I am very much enjoying reading the book, but haven't managed to finish it yet. I do have a question though and I hope it makes sense:

'he felt he had already broken an unspoken English rule in asking for help' (p.62, emphasis added)

I think that's absolutely spot on! Why do you think that is? Especially as there is no shortage of offering help, e.g. the woman did help Harold....

I am not English but DH and his parents are. Of all cultural differences this one is bugging me most. Why is it so wrong to admit being in need?

Hello RSVP,

I think it is often to do with generation. But I think too that (in some English people,) there is a sense that you are expected to be able to manage everything and that if you can?t, it is shameful to admit you are out of your depth.

Belo

For only the 2nd time ever I've finished a book in time!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and agreed with the other posters that it picked up its momentum as it went through.

My questions/comments are... I didn't guess about David. It came as a shock to me in the same way that finding out about the husbands death in We need to talk about Kevin did. Was that book an influence on you Rachel?

I would like to have heard more about Maureen - she seemed to have come on quite a journey herself, but it would have been nicer to have had her turned into a fuller character. And, Rex, it appeared that he was only there to try and pull Maureen out of herself. Was there a reason that you didn't expand these characters, and give them more of a role?

[quote Belo]For only the 2nd time ever I've finished a book in time!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and agreed with the other posters that it picked up its momentum as it went through.

My questions/comments are... I didn't guess about David. It came as a shock to me in the same way that finding out about the husbands death in We need to talk about Kevin did. Was that book an influence on you Rachel?

I would like to have heard more about Maureen - she seemed to have come on quite a journey herself, but it would have been nicer to have had her turned into a fuller character. And, Rex, it appeared that he was only there to try and pull Maureen out of herself. Was there a reason that you didn't expand these characters, and give them more of a role?

Hello Bello,

I am ashamed to admit I haven?t yet read it. I am very interested, though, in what happens to creativity and intelligence when it doesn?t find the right vent through which to express itself. At its worst, I fear it can swoop back on itself and be very brutal. David is a young man who gets lost. I think I have already answered the other point about expanding characters/ ending stories. I don?t want to tell you what to feel, what to think. I feel it's important to let the reader take the clues and contemplate on how things might have been.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:35:10

[quote lilibet]Hi Rachel

Thanks for coming to mumsnet and thanks for writing such a thought provoking book. I was bought it for my birthday in May and have pressed it on several people since then, who have all loved it, including my husband.

What differences did you find in writing for radio and writing a novel, did you picture the characters in the same way? I never really connect with a book or a radio play unless I cast the people in my head, if I can't find a face for a main character, chances are that I won't get along with the book. I cast everyone in Harold Fry! (if you need my services for any movie or tv adaptaion, I can be contacted through mumsnet wink )

Hello lilibet,

The best part for me about moving a story from a radio play into a book was the freedom it gave me to explore. I know not all of you are going to agree with me when I say this, but it gave me the chance to probe the past, memory, why people are the people they are; and also to give Harold these chance encounters along the way. (None of them were in the radio play.) I think things can happen between strangers – conversations, acts of kindness – that might not be so easy when you have to see that person day after day after day.

Having said that, in a radio play you have to watch the plot like a hawk. You can’t have a scene – however much you like it – unless it advances the story. That is a good discipline, I think. (And again I can hear some of you groaning about HOW SLOW the book was for you. So I’m sorry for that.)
All I am saying about casting is this; have you heard Jim Broadbent reading the audio book? He breaks my heart.

lilibet Tue 29-Jan-13 21:37:17

She answered me!! (and beautifully too) grin

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:37:19

[quote BownhillBaby]Hi Rachel

I wondered if you could say something about your process of putting a book together - whether you get things right first time or go through a series of drafts. I'd also be really interested to know if you had all your plot points clear before you got going or if they were revealed on your own journey.

Thanks!

It takes me so long to feel I have captured a sentence, or a feeling, let alone a whole story. I know my beginning, my middle and the end - often the bits in between take lots of mistakes in order to find the way.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:40:39

[quote CuriousMama]Hello Rachel, I adored TUPOHF. Cried buckets and still feel weepy when I think of it. Dp also cried especially when he read their son had died. I did have an inkling to be honest.

I'd like to ask if you have any tips on the structure of writing a novel? I'm tempted to buy a writing kit but not sure if I really need one? I did buy one before but lost it in a house move but hadn't really tried using it. Or maybe I should carry a large notebook around and take notes?

I'd rather be a script writer but would love to attempt a novel.

Good luck in your future and look forward to your next works smile

Thank you!

I think the first draft of a book is terrifying. It is like digging a huge hole and you have no idea what shape it is going to be, or even what it really is. But you learn like that. You make lots of mistakes - and that is how you find the answers, I think.

I have a notebook and my children keep drawing in it.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:41:35

michelle1979

Hi Rachel,

I don't have any questions, just wanted to congratulate you on your novel, I found parts of it extremely moving and perceptive. So very sorry about the loss of your Dad.

Thank you, Michelle.

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 21:43:58

Thanks Rachel I'll keep a notebook. I find myself making up stories all the time. I just need to get my finger out and actually write!

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 21:44:21

Rachel, anything you can tell us about your next book? Many of us are waiting in anticipation!

Hello MummyBarrow -

(And yes, OF COURSE I remember meeting you.)

The new book is so big in my head it might take us all night for me to finish this answer. But here is the line on the back cover:

'In 1972, two seconds were added to time. Were they to blame for what happened next?'

MummyBarrow Tue 29-Jan-13 21:46:13

oh my word!! Thank you for your reply, Rachel. Do hope you have enjoyed your chat in Mumsnet tonight.

1972... two seconds? Oh my word. I CANNOT WAIT!!!

PS flat share with Emma Freud at Uni?! Bet there is lots of gossip there!

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?

brendarenda Tue 29-Jan-13 22:00:19

In my mind Maureen was Penelope Wilton.

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 22:00:54

HellesBelles396

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...

But that is a VERY IMPORTANT moment - and yet it is small.

Janimoso Tue 29-Jan-13 22:00:57

Hi there, for me, the most moving part, which made me cry, was when queenie hears her name being called just like when she was a wee gir. What a nice touch and that will stay with me. A wee sad but gentle story. Lovely. Well done :-)

We've run out of time, so I would like to say a very wholehearted thank you to everyone for all their messages and questions - it has been one of the most interesting and engaging bookclub chats we've ever had.

Most of all: Rachel, thank you very very much indeed for your time, energy and generosity. Your answers have been so honest and illuminating, we really appreciate having that insight into the book.

Good luck with the next project, we'll all be looking forward to reading it (and to seeing Harold on the big screen sometime soon...)

Many thanks and congratulations again on a wonderful book.

MummyBarrow Tue 29-Jan-13 22:01:12

If it had been done by Hollywood it wouuld have been Tom bleedin' Cruise. he gets them all.

gaelicsheep Tue 29-Jan-13 22:01:24

Is he really? I truly didn't realise that!

I loved the book and agree about the groupies' presence. They are irritating but they're supposed to be- the contrast for me that made me want to regain the peace that Harold is so desperate for himself.

If you come back for the other web chat Rachel, what Mumsnet nickname would you choose?

Thank you for a great book and a fascinating chat tonight.

HellesBelles396 Tue 29-Jan-13 22:01:52

I think you need to have lived both with (my childhood) and without (my adulthood) nets to think so!

RachelJoyce Tue 29-Jan-13 22:02:40

[quote TillyBookClub]We've run out of time, so I would like to say a very wholehearted thank you to everyone for all their messages and questions - it has been one of the most interesting and engaging bookclub chats we've ever had.

Most of all: Rachel, thank you very very much indeed for your time, energy and generosity. Your answers have been so honest and illuminating, we really appreciate having that insight into the book.

Good luck with the next project, we'll all be looking forward to reading it (and to seeing Harold on the big screen sometime soon...)

Many thanks and congratulations again on a wonderful book.

But thank you from me. I have had a lovely evening. I just wish I could type faster..

Sleep tight, mums

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 22:03:33

Yes I agree the groupies are a good contrast. Irritating and makes you glad when they go.

John Travolta!!! Please if there is a God noooooooooo.

Although Gerard Butler would be nice slotted in there somewhere wink

Janimoso Tue 29-Jan-13 22:05:02

Ps my husband is reading it now, and we almost never usually read the same books!!!

Got to quickly add: could have asked me to name 500 actors who might play Harold, and John Travolta would quite certainly not have been there.

The image of Travolta trudging through Somerset in boating shoes is going to keep me laughing inside all night.

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 22:11:30

Same here TBC grin

FairyArmadillo Tue 29-Jan-13 22:13:10

I know I missed this. Ironically, I missed it because I couldn't put the book down and have just finished it, weeping. Rachel, if you're still around- your book was beautiful. Off to read the thread now.

Belo Tue 29-Jan-13 22:15:30

Drat. Missed all of the live chat. Stuck on a work problem sad

And just to remind everyone that February's Book of the Month thread (where we'll be discussing Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL) is live and ready for you... and you can chat to Gillian on Tue 26 February.

See you there.

CuriousMama Tue 29-Jan-13 22:37:09

I've ordered the February book from the library so will try to join in.

gazzalw Wed 30-Jan-13 06:29:18

What a fabulous 'chat' - and I've never seen anyone get through the comments/questions at such a speed....

It will make a fabulous film methinks (let's hope so) and looking forward to the publication of Rachel's next novel.

I definitely can see Billy Nighy in the film but I would probably have him as the actor or the man having the relationship with the young man (whom Harold meets in the cafe...)

DuchessofMalfi Wed 30-Jan-13 08:18:38

Good choice gazzalw grin

I missed the chat too - was poorly all day yesterday and went to bed early. Will catch up with reading the thread this morning.

Eirwen Wed 30-Jan-13 08:53:06

I just caught the tail end of the web chat last night and have just read through the whole thread again - it was fantastic. I feel doubly blessed - first I received a lovely free book which I very very much enjoyed. Second was this marvellous, interesting, thought provoking webchat. I think this is the best chat there has ever been on the MN Bookclub. Thank you so much to Rachel Joyce, to Mumsnet and to Transworld Books. I'm just off to finish our VAT returns and ponder some more over Harold and Maureen !!!

HanneHolm Sun 10-Feb-13 16:57:49

i hvae loved not only this book but the chat too - funny honest and interesting.

thanks so much and so sorry about your Dad

Pinkbatrobi Wed 20-Feb-13 02:22:28

I'm arriving unbelievably late (because I only managed to get my hands on the book 3 days ago) but once i started it I found it impossible to put it down... Absolutely loved it. Now the chat is over I am left with MY question: what was it that Harold told Maureen at the ball that was so ordinary that it made them laugh and laugh? Rachel says she knows what it is but didn't tell US!!!

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