Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus - A Fun Novel by Joyce Magnin

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin
  • A Paperback Novel
  • 320 Pages
  • Suggested Price $14.99
  • Christian Fiction
  • Suggested Audience - 18 and Older
  • Released 4/24/12
  • Electronic Editions Available
Poor Harriet Beamer!  She's a very likable lady, but since her husband Max died, she's lonely.

Harriet is not a shut in by any means.   Martha is her best friend, a sweet Bassett Hound named Humphrey keeps her company at home, friends in her neighborhood and at church love her cookies and her fudge.  Her life isn't a sad, or bad one - but it is a life without any destination or goal. 

When she loses a bet that requires her to pack up all of her earthly belongings, sell her home, move from Pennsylvania to California and live with her son, Henry, and his wife, Prudence - at first glance - it seems sad.  Except that Harriet had never lost a bet in her life!  And surely, she had to know she was going to lose this one!

As she packs, her brain catches up to what her subconscious already knows, and she develops a plan.  Mrs. Beamer (who's only forays out of Pennsylvania since her wedding had been her yearly trips to the Jersey Shore) decides she will take this opportunity to see the country.  As an avid collector of salt and pepper shakers, she had sets from all over the world, but she hadn't seen any of the places they had come from.

Harriet makes a solemn resolve to see the salt and pepper shaker museum in Tennessee and anything else that catches her fancy between her home and her final destination in Grass Valley, California.  The really interesting part of her plan is that she decides to use only local public transportation on her journey.

Armed with a brand new smart phone, a tote bag and a roll along suitcase, Harriet puts her dog on a plane to California, and sets off on her journey.  At age 72, she begins what would seem to be a boring trip, to a boring place en route to another (even more boring) place.  But along the way Harriet meets people who touch her life, and she touches back.  The safe and predictable senior citizen who left the northeast changes in many ways.  Her new clothing, her open attitude, and her new adventurous spirit are an obvious makeover, but deeper, and unseen, Harriet's heart is changing, too.

As she travels, Mrs. Beamer keeps a journal.  Writing to her deceased husband, she not only chronicles her journey and its adventures, but she also lets go of the some of the grief that she has been holding.  Getting out into the world and seeing all there is beyond Philidelphia, Harriet also begins to understand why her only child, chose to follow his dreams against her wishes.  Her heart softens toward him and she lets go of the resentment she has felt about this.  The emotional distance between them starts to shrink.

Sprinkled throughout the chapters, we get to see glimpses of Henry and Prudence, and what their life is really like.  (as opposed to Harriet's impression of them)

Through the funny, the sad, the harrowing, and the sweet, when all is said and done, Harriet's heart truly is forever changed, (in many ways!!) and it appears that her new life is going to be a very bright one, and the love that she has been missing is definitely waiting for her in Grass Valley, California.

I have to admit - I would never have chosen this book on my own.  I'm a serious soul, and lately, surround myself with non-fiction, or novels that are a bit heavier.  This book was a fun, easy read, and Harriet really grew on me.  I could see this being a great book for the pool or beach, or maybe airport reading.  I liked the change of pace.

I read an advance copy, so there were a couple of things in it that didn't quite line up, but I'm sure they have been fixed in final editing.  Even so, the book itself, and the premise were entertaining.  It appears that Ms. Magnin has written some other similar novels.  The other titles are Charlotte Figg Takes over Paradise, The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, Blame it on the Misletoe and Griselda Takes FlightCarrying Mason is also written by Joyce Magnin, but appears to be a different style.

Joyce MagninJoyce Magnin is the author of the popular and quirky Bright's Pond novels. She is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor. When she's not writing or reading Joyce enjoys baseball, needle arts, video games and cream soda but not elevators--especially glass ones. She listens to many kinds of music, shamelessly confesses to enjoying American Idol, has never eaten a scallop or sky dived. 

Joyce has three children, Rebekah, Emily and Adam and three grandsons, Lemuel, Cedar and Soren and one son-in-law, Joshua. Joyce lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania with her son, Adam and their crazy cat, Mango, where she cares for an eighty-year-old onion plant.

This biography and photo are the property of  the author or their representative.

I was sent an advance reading copy of this book so that I could write an informed, blogged review.  I was not paid to write this post and my opinions are my own.