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Harriet!

Book cover image - This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!

I love mysteries and thrillers, but funnily enough, the books that stay with me long after the last page is turned don't fit into that genre. Instead, it is the books that embrace and celebrate human nature, frailty, spirit, joy and more that continue to resonate with me.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison is one of those books.

Seventy-eight year old Harriet Chance's husband Bernard has been dead for two years when she receives a call from a travel agency about an Alaskan cruise. Bernard purchased it - and the deadline for using it is approaching. Against her children's wishes (they think she's losing her mind as she insists Bernard is still around and talking to her) she decides to go.

But Bernard is indeed showing up and talking to her. An unknown narrator leads the reader on a tour of Harriet's life, from early years, to the present and the years in between. Along with Harriet, we discover secrets kept from her over the years and secrets she has kept over those same years...

"This is your life, Harriet Chance, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do you part."

Oh I loved Harriet! I liked her determination, empathized with her sadness, urged her on in her hopes, saddened at her acceptances, was appalled at revelations and more. It was easy to believe that this was truly someone's life. I thought Evison did a great job of imagining a life lived. The author's notes at the end only confirmed this....

"...the women who have often settled for less, the women who've never quite gotten their fair share, who have soldiered on in the face of inequity, frustration and despair, who have forgiven beyond a reasonable measure, absorbed beyond reasonable expectation, and given, given, given with no promise of recompense. I wanted to thank them with this portrait of one woman, inspired by all of them..."  Loved it. Well done Mr. Evison. ~~Luanne~~