This book was recommended to me by the same person who recommended one of my favorite books of 2014, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I was told it was a charming, quirky book, which are hard to find and something really I love. Like Fikry. Or The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Or Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.
I didn’t love this one so much. It was quirky for sure, but really could have used a bit more charm, which I found lacking.
The story revolves around the eponymous Harriet Chance, a 79 year-old widow. Her husband has died but still visits her on occasion, to the displeasure of the angels and her children and pastor, who thinks she’s losing it. She finds out that her husband has won a cruise to Alaska and she takes it as a sign that she should go. She invites her best friend, who cancels at the last minute and eventually her estranged daughter shows up on board. And slowly, Harriet finds out that much of her life and the people around her have been full of secrets and lies.
The book is a series of short chapters that jump around to various specific days in Harriet’s life showing her at different ages. The chapters do not move chronologically but are nonetheless easy to follow. Harriet is an odd duck at best, as are her husband, family and friends, which adds to the quirkiness of the story. But I just couldn’t get attached to her, and without that, the story just meanders pointlessly. It was a fast read, and I’m not sorry I read it but it was a bit of a letdown.
9/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! by Jonathan Evison. Algonquin Books (September 8, 2015). ISBN 978-1616202613. 304p.