Seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance, recently widowed, is finding it difficult to convince anyone that her deceased husband is still communicating with her. Then, as the subtle hints of his presence morph into complicated conversations, she decides to keep it all to herself long enough to see what the man has to say for himself. And she learns things about life – her life – that surprise her, shock her, and make her grow up before she loses the chance forever.
Evison uses an all-knowing narrator to take Harriet on a tour of her own life. Sometimes the narrator writes about episodes from Harriet’s life; sometimes he speaks directly to Harriet about events that influenced and shaped her. All of it is done in pinball machine fashion (including game sound effects) so that the reader might bounce in one run from Harriet at age one, to Harriet in her thirties, to Harriet at seventy-seven, to Harriet in her twenties, and back to Harriet in the present, at seventy-eight. What might seem at first a rather jarring literary device works beautifully to develop Harriet Chance from what at first appears to be merely a comic fictional character into a fully-fleshed woman whom readers will long remember.
Bottom Line: This Is Your Life Harriet Chance! is a very fine piece of literary fiction, a character study in which the author seems to find something good and something bad in each and every one of the members of his cast. They are just like the rest of us.
(Look for this one on September 8, 2015)