cover image Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Joyce Magnin. Zondervan, $14.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-310-33355-5

Magnin (Bright’s Pond series) continues her quirky ways with the titular character, a 72-year-old widow who takes the long way across the country when she reluctantly agrees to move in with her son and daughter-in-law in California. Her road trip is filled with bed-and-breakfasts, a GPS named Amelia, cancan dancers, petty criminals, dozens of salt-and-pepper shakers (she collects them), and—of course—increasing self-knowledge. Magnin breathes gentle life into the classic road trip structure. Harriet’s sheltered naïveté is occasionally beyond the bounds of belief, but Magnin has an energetic and confident sense of narrative rhythm and Harriet is funny and indelibly characterized. An extensive subplot involves Harriet’s writer son, Henry, and his lawyer wife Prudence, whose family plans are at a standstill after two miscarriages. Henry is more fully rendered than Prudence, who remains somewhat opaque. Not aimed at fans of dystopia and dysfunction, it’s a great read for fans of feisty-old-lady stories; spiritual elements are well blended in, like the right amount of seasoning from one of Harriet’s shakers. Agency: MacGregor Literary. (May)