This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!: A Novel

Algonquin Books
30
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“Insightful, richly entertaining . . . Evison writes humanely and with good humor of his characters, who, like the rest of us, muddle through, too often without giving ourselves much of a break. A lovely, forgiving character study that’s a pleasure to read.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 

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. 

Jonathan Evison has crafted a bighearted novel with an endearing heroine at the helm. 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.
 
“A terrific novel, funny and moving, wistful and wise. Jonathan Evison’s writing crackles on the page.” —Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
 
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is as sweet as it is inventive, profound as it is hilarious, unflinching as it is bighearted.” —Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette
 
[An] irresistible, inventive novel full of important ideas about how we live our lives as parents, children, partners, and human beings . . . Evison is a ridiculously gifted storyteller.” —Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins
 
“A generous and wise tale, told with Evison’s trademark verve and charisma, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! is a deeply felt and deeply comforting novel.” —Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers
 
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! has all the wonderful snap and sizzle we’ve come to expect from Jonathan Evison’s work, and as much heart as any novel I’ve read in recent years.” —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

“Both uplifting and melancholy, funny and thought-provoking, this entertaining read speaks directly to the importance of acceptance and healing.” —Booklist
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About the author

Jonathan Evison is the author of four previous novels, including All About Lulu, West of Here, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, and This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! He lives with his wife and family in Washington State. 

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3.8
30 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Algonquin Books
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Published on
Sep 8, 2015
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781616205362
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Contemporary Women
Fiction / Family Life
Fiction / Humorous / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

Reading information

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In The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (releasing June 24, 2016 as a Netflix Original Film titled The Fundamentals of Caring, starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez), Jonathan Evison, author of the new novel This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! and the New York Times bestseller West of Here, has crafted a novel of the heart, a story of unlikely heroes in a grand American landscape.

For Ben Benjamin, all has been lost--his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. Hoping to find a new direction, he enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he will learn to take care of people with disabilities. He is instructed about professionalism, about how to keep an emotional distance between client and provider, and about the art of inserting catheters while avoiding liability. But when Ben is assigned his first client--a tyrannical nineteen-year-old boy named Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy--he soon discovers that the endless service checklists have done nothing to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated teenager who has an ax to grind with the whole world.

Over time, the relationship between Ben and Trev, which had begun with mutual misgivings, evolves into a close friendship, and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur. The bond between them strengthens as they embark on a road trip to visit Trev’s ailing father--a journey rerouted by a series of bizarre roadside attractions that propel them into an impulsive adventure disrupted by one birth, two arrests, a freakish dust storm, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious brown Buick Skylark. By the end of that journey, Trev has had his first taste of love, and Ben has found a new reason to love life.

Bursting with energy and filled with moments of absolute beauty, this big-hearted and inspired novel ponders life’s terrible surprises as well as what it takes to truly care for another human being.
The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.

New York Times Bestseller • Southern Book Prize Winner

Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it’s called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town’s Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Flagg’s own Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways.

Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. “Resting place” turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.

With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town’s Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies.

Praise for The Whole Town’s Talking

“A witty multigenerational saga . . . [Fannie] Flagg’s down-home wisdom, her affable humor and her long view of life offer a pleasant respite in nerve-jangling times.”—People
 
“Fannie Flagg at her best.”—The Florida Times-Union
 
“If there’s one thing Fannie Flagg can do better than anybody else, it’s tell a story, and she outdoes herself in The Whole Town’s Talking. . . . Brilliant . . . equally on the level as her famous Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.”—The Newport Plain Talk
 
“Delightful.”—The Washington Post
 
“A ringing affirmation of love, community and life itself.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
From Susan Vreeland, bestselling author of such acclaimed novels as Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany, comes a richly imagined story of a woman’s awakening in the south of Vichy France—to the power of art, to the beauty of provincial life, and to love in the midst of war.

In 1937, young Lisette Roux and her husband, André, move from Paris to a village in Provence to care for André’s grandfather Pascal. Lisette regrets having to give up her dream of becoming a gallery apprentice and longs for the comforts and sophistication of Paris. But as she soon discovers, the hilltop town is rich with unexpected pleasures.

Pascal once worked in the nearby ochre mines and later became a pigment salesman and frame maker; while selling his pigments in Paris, he befriended Pissarro and Cézanne, some of whose paintings he received in trade for his frames. Pascal begins to tutor Lisette in both art and life, allowing her to see his small collection of paintings and the Provençal landscape itself in a new light. Inspired by Pascal’s advice to “Do the important things first,” Lisette begins a list of vows to herself (#4. Learn what makes a painting great). When war breaks out, André goes off to the front, but not before hiding Pascal’s paintings to keep them from the Nazis’ reach.

With German forces spreading across Europe, the sudden fall of Paris, and the rise of Vichy France, Lisette sets out to locate the paintings (#11. Find the paintings in my lifetime). Her search takes her through the stunning French countryside, where she befriends Marc and Bella Chagall, who are in hiding before their flight to America, and acquaints her with the land, her neighbors, and even herself in ways she never dreamed possible. Through joy and tragedy, occupation and liberation, small acts of kindness and great acts of courage, Lisette learns to forgive the past, to live robustly, and to love again.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

“Vreeland’s love of painters and painting, her meticulous research and pitch-perfect descriptive talents . . . are abundantly evident in her new novel.”—The Washington Post

“This historical novel’s . . . great strength is its lovingly detailed setting. . . . Readers will enjoy lingering in the sun-dappled, fruit-scented Provençal landscape that Vreeland brings to life.”—The Boston Globe
In The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (releasing June 24, 2016 as a Netflix Original Film titled The Fundamentals of Caring, starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez), Jonathan Evison, author of the new novel This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! and the New York Times bestseller West of Here, has crafted a novel of the heart, a story of unlikely heroes in a grand American landscape.

For Ben Benjamin, all has been lost--his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. Hoping to find a new direction, he enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he will learn to take care of people with disabilities. He is instructed about professionalism, about how to keep an emotional distance between client and provider, and about the art of inserting catheters while avoiding liability. But when Ben is assigned his first client--a tyrannical nineteen-year-old boy named Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy--he soon discovers that the endless service checklists have done nothing to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated teenager who has an ax to grind with the whole world.

Over time, the relationship between Ben and Trev, which had begun with mutual misgivings, evolves into a close friendship, and the traditional boundaries between patient and caregiver begin to blur. The bond between them strengthens as they embark on a road trip to visit Trev’s ailing father--a journey rerouted by a series of bizarre roadside attractions that propel them into an impulsive adventure disrupted by one birth, two arrests, a freakish dust storm, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious brown Buick Skylark. By the end of that journey, Trev has had his first taste of love, and Ben has found a new reason to love life.

Bursting with energy and filled with moments of absolute beauty, this big-hearted and inspired novel ponders life’s terrible surprises as well as what it takes to truly care for another human being.
“Jonathan Evison's voice is pure magic. In Lawn Boy, at once a vibrant coming-of-age novel and a sharp social commentary on class, Evison offers a painfully honest portrait of one young man's struggle to overcome the hand he's been dealt in life and reach for his dreams. It's a journey you won't want to miss, with an ending you won't forget.”
—Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale

For Mike Muñoz, a young Chicano living in Washington State, life has been a whole lot of waiting for something to happen. Not too many years out of high school and still doing menial work—and just fired from his latest gig as a lawn boy on a landscaping crew—he knows that he’s got to be the one to shake things up if he’s ever going to change his life. But how?

In this funny, angry, touching, and ultimately deeply inspiring novel, bestselling author Jonathan Evison takes the reader into the heart and mind of a young man on a journey to discover himself, a search to find the secret to achieving the American dream of happiness and prosperity. That’s the birthright for all Americans, isn’t it? If so, then what is Mike Muñoz’s problem? Though he tries time and again to get his foot on the first rung of that ladder to success, he can’t seem to get a break. But then things start to change for Mike, and after a raucous, jarring, and challenging trip, he finds he can finally see the future and his place in it. And it’s looking really good.

Lawn Boy is an important, entertaining, and completely winning novel about social class distinctions, about overcoming cultural discrimination, and about standing up for oneself.
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