This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! – Jonathan Evison
Fiction – Contemporary
Published September 8th 2015 by Algonquin Books
It was different…so, so good but definitely different and I cannot recommend it enough.
So What It’s About
Harriet Chance is 79 when she finds herself widowed and still wanting more out of life. Even though her husband Bernard has been dead two years, he has been showing up in her life more and more every day as a spirit type vision thing. Right before his death, Bernard entered a drawing for an Alaskan cruise and won. Harriet now has the chance to go on a cruise of a lifetime. She convinces her children it is a good idea and she is perfectly capable of going by inviting her best friend Mildred along. When Mildred bails for reasons unknown, Harriet finds herself going at it alone.
Harriet’s story is told through flashbacks walking through the stages and moments of her life and present day. We get to see how every choice Harriet made led her to this moment on this cruise. Harriet is the victim at times and the instigator during others, we get to see how she’s not the only one responsible and a flawed and real character.
I still don’t know how to put my thoughts into words about this book, I just want to keep gushing over it. Harriet was not this innocent old lady but she was not this evil monster either. She was a flawed person and I think that’s what drew me to her character. Some of the mistakes she made were ones she never even realized were awful. This was the type of book that made you want to go out and live and do everything while you still can. In retrospect, Harriet gave up on her dreams to fast and lived the life that was expected of her instead of the life she wanted. She was doomed from the start and it was interesting to see how how her time and her upbringing affected her decisions more than her actual aspirations.
The only thing I disliked were her children. They were assholes, but they weren’t fully thought out assholes. I wish we would have gotten more of their characters to see where they were coming from in their actions. In the end we saw all of their decisions without any context other than how Harriet saw them. With how full of a person Harriet is, I wish the other characters had more depth to match.
“It’s a cruel process, aging. Take my advice, dear, maintain your independence as long as possible.”
Probably not, but I have already begun recommending this to everyone I know and plan to read more by Evison in the future. Any recommendations would be great!