With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. Read more...
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With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what she hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a surprising and revelatory journey into Harriet's past.
There, amid the overwhelming buffets and the incessant lounge singers, between the imagined appearances of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life. And in the process she discovers that she's been living the better part of that life under entirely false assumptions.
In This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance Jonathan Evison has crafted a bighearted novel with an endearing heroine at the helm. Through Harriet, he paints a bittersweet portrait of a postmodern everywoman, her story told with great warmth, humanity, and humor. Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother-daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this tale of acceptance, reexamination, and forgiveness.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-07-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Harriet Chance, a 78-year-old Seattle native, gets an unexpected phone call informing her that her husband, Bernard, now dead, had won a trip on an Alaskan cruise at a charity auction and failed to pick up his winnings. With the voucher set to expire, Harriet decides to go out of her comfort zone and bring a friend on the trip. The trip causes Harriet to question everything she thought she knew about her past and her relationships. Evison (The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving) chooses a second-person narrative to delve into the mind-set of Harriet, a woman who seems estranged from not only her close family (including favored but distant son Skip and her troubled recovering addict daughter Caroline) but from herself. The time line skips back in forth: from her wedding day at 22 as a pregnant bride, to her attempts to cast off her domestic duties and reenter the work force (“Look at you, Harriet Chance, so diligent, so fastidious in your attention to detail!”). Evison’s voice is buoyant and cheeky as he unveils the deep traumas that form Harriet’s sense of herself, but there are missteps—namely, a secondary narrative in which Bernard Chance risks being barred from a sketchily described afterlife to try to communicate with Harriet. Still, Evison succeeds in crafting a believable and gut-wrenching story, particularly Harriet’s relationship with her daughter and their efforts to accept and love one another. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (Sept.)