Tuesday, November 3, 2015

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

Novels with happy colors of the cover should be happy; just one complaint to start out with while trying to write a positive review because many people will enjoy this novel, just not me.

Harriet Chance is 78 and has been a widower for two years.  She has been seeing Bernard, her dead husband, quite a bit lately.  Of course her friends and family think she is losing touch with reality, but no dear reader, Bernard really is visiting her from the afterlife.  (I have no idea why, the book would have been fine without the weirdness of him having conversations with Harriet and those that run the afterlife.  I must have missed something…?)  Anyway, before his Alzheimer’s got truly awful Bernard entered a drawing to win a cruise to Alaska.  And he won!  The ones who held the raffle take three or four years to hunt down a relative (what?!) and now Harriet is going on a cruise.

The style of the writing was interesting.  Each chapter starts with the date and the age Harriet is at the time.  Most of the story is set in the present, but you also get to see what made Harriet the woman she is today.  Unfortunately something awful and more awful always seems to be coming when you learn about her past. 

Maybe I’m being a little harsh.  I apologize.  I could have seen around all issues I mentioned above, but what starts out quirky and fun becomes depressing and very dark.  I get really annoyed when books do that.  I have to say it was very well written, maybe a little too much an emotional rollercoaster for me.  However, I did listen to the whole book.  A testament to how good the reader was, and that I did want to know where the story was going.  Just didn’t like it when I got there.

If you like dysfunctional stories with a fully development main character that is more bitter than bittersweet this may be your next read.