This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!: A Novel (Paperback)
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Jonathan Evison gets better with each new book. ”I guess you could say This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is a coming of old age story,” he says of his latest. We become acquainted with the main character Harriet in bits and pieces snipped from the pages of her life, beginning in early childhood and continuing to the age of 78. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces begin to fit together into a cohesive picture. It's brilliant, and I would recommend it to just about any reader.— Jackie Blem, who reads like a house of fire and whose recommendations are as good as gold.
September 2015 Indie Next List
“With This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, Evison has crafted an instant classic. Recently widowed 78-year-old Harriet embarks on an Alaskan cruise that proves to be the vehicle for her own self-discovery. As one shocking truth after another is revealed about Harriet's life, readers come to love this woman who is anything but perfect, and whose life is anything but ordinary. With an inventive, addictive structure and prose that surges with life, humor, and compassion, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is one to move to the very top of your reading list.”
— Rob Dougherty, Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, NJ
With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail alone on an Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what Harriet hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a wildly surprising and revelatory journey into her past.
Jonathan Evison has crafted a bighearted novel with an endearing heroine at the helm. Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of mother-daughter relationships, nothing is what it seems in this bittersweet tale, told with humor and humanity.
“An irresistible, inventive novel full of important ideas about how we live our lives as parents, children, partners, and human beings.” —Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins
“Infused with Evison’s characteristic empathy and heart and humor . . . He’s got a talent for character, emotion and pacing.” —Los Angeles Times
“Open-hearted, effervescent.” —The Washington Post
“Wildly entertaining.” —The Seattle Times
“This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is a pleasurable mix of the crazy escapades, changing relationships and thoughtful reflections that make up a life.” —The Toronto Star
“Slowly, and with admirable, dark precision, Evison lays Harriet bare . . . And with Harriet Chance--poor, frustrated, flummoxed Harriet--Evison has found his ideal foil.” —NPR.com
“It’s hard to imagine the reader who won’t be moved by this lively, lovely work.” —The Denver Post
About the Author
“Thank heaven for surprises, especially of the Jonathan Evison variety . . . Sure to become a book club favourite this fall, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is a pleasurable mix of the crazy escapades, changing relationships and thoughtful reflections that make up a life. It shows us that whatever age we are, the delightful surprises never stop, but neither do the growing pains. It reminds us too that when it comes to forgiveness, often the hardest person to forgive is ourselves.”—Toronto Star
“Evison writes with his typical unflinching honesty about a life that is not what it seems . . . poignant reflections on aging, parenting, friendship and marriage constantly surprise with their quiet truthfulness.” —The Globe and Mail
“In every situation, poor Harriet draws the short straw. But This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is anything but a drag: Evison . . . makes Harriet’s sad story sing . . . [Evison’s] over-the-top commentary conveys the pathos of Harriet’s misadventures with just the right blend of snark and sympathy, and it’s tremendously fun to read . . . Harriet’s character emerges in fascinating detail, as if from a chrysalis . . . She’s much more interesting than we thought. So, for that matter, is Evison’s novel . . .” —Commentary
“Evison is a talented writer that is capable of making the reader think beyond the book with his candid character conversations and dialogues and his thought-provoking subject matter. Through humor and seriousness, Evison will almost force the reader to consume this book in one sitting!”—Portland Book Review
“Luckily for readers, there is This is Your Life, Harriet Chance, by Jonathan Evison, to provide a contemplative, funny and sensitive take on the polychromatic journey of life . . . a patchwork of moments, both large and small, that are, in turns, amusing, heartbreaking and recognizable in their universality . . . At its core, Evison’s book is an examination of human identity and what that means as a person grows older and begins to entwine and interact with other people . . . [Harriet is faced] with rediscovering her own individuality and with moving beyond the dysfunctional relationship she has had with her adult daughter. Written with both humor and pathos, This is Your Life, Harriet Chance probes the juncture where those two intersect, where the beautiful melancholy of life is the sweetest.” —Summit Daily (Vail, Colorado)
“This novel works from every angle. . . I laughed, giggled, cried and held Harriet close as the pages of her life opened to me. Then I started over again not ready to let her go. I not only recommend you read this one, I urge you to read it. The life you come to understand may well be your own.” —Roanoke Times