The Publisher says:
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. Here, 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.
While the story itself is more than enough to make me want to take a look, it is the format of the book that kept me turning pages. Evison uses the flashback device very effectively, and has an omniscient narrator telling us (and Harriet) about various events in her life today and in the past. Harriet's gradual discovery of what she knew and when she knew (or should have known) it is a poignant portrayal of aging, loneliness, denial, and forgiveness. In learning to forgive others, she comes to forgive and accept herself. A delightful, thought-provoking read.
Title:This is Your Life, Harriet Chance
Author: Jonathan Evison
Publisher: Algonquin Books (2015), 304 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Subject: Aging, self-discovery
Setting: Alaskan cruise
Source: Net Galley, electronic review copy from the Publisher
Why did I read this book now? It's being considered for the Maine Readers' Choice Award and I'm on the selection committee.