This is the story of Harriet Beamer, a seventy-two year old widow who had been living alone in Philadelphia. After falling while decorating her Christmas tree, her daughter-in-law Prudence tricks Harriet into selling her home and moving in with her and Henry, Harriet's son.
When Harriet realizes what happened, she reluctantly keeps her promise to move, but decides to take her time making the long journey to Grass Valley, California, near Sacramento. Not only does she want to get there on her own terms, she wants to visit some places along the way. Her late husband hadn't liked to travel and so they had never made any trips. Since she was a long-time collector of salt and pepper shakers, one place she wanted to go to in particular was the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Harriet sells her house, says goodbye to her friends, ships her belongings to California. Her dog Humphrey, goes on ahead on the plane. Her plan was to take local buses only to make the trip more interesting and longer. But she soon learns that is not possible. Although she takes a local bus when possible, she travels in a variety of ways including a helicopter, a motorcycle sidecar, and trains. She meets many interesting people along the way, some help her and some she helps, some we can only guess, but hope Harriet has blessed them all in some way. One person, David Prancing Elk, told her about a good place to go to look at the stars. So she went there. She gained some fame along the way. A YouTube video of her stopping a thief was broadcast around the world and, at another time and place she managed to help the police catch a couple who had stolen her credit card.
When Harriet was alone on the trip, she pulled out her journal and wrote to her late husband Max and told him about her day. This gave the reader insights not possible otherwise. Along the way, alone in a hotel room or a B&B, Harriet grieved in a way she probably never did while living at home. She missed her husband in a new way. She probably grieved because of the change happening in her life as well. She had been used to talking to Humphrey and with him already in California, she had another reason to be sad. But it's mostly a fun book, not a sad one.
There are ups and downs, tears and laughter, all the way across the United States. However, there's more. It could have easily turned into a series of episodes in each town Harriet visited with no depth. But it didn't. A subplot involving Henry and Prudence gave the story deeper meaning and more interest. In addition to that, the way Harriet changes throughout the trip makes it much more than a series of short stories.
I laughed and cried and all the while kept turning pages to see what would happen next. To me, that means Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus is well worth the read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advance review copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Read about this rambunctious 72 year old as she travels by herself cross country mainly on public transportation, heading toward her new home in Grass Valley, California. She lost a bet which started her on this journey. Harriet meets a snake handling preacher, rides in a motorcycle sidecar, dances the cancan in a saloon, and meets lots of folks, some friendly and some ornery. Her hound dog, Humphrey, is a main character. Oh, and Harriet adds to her beloved collection of salt and pepper shakers as she journeys west. If you like to smile and enjoy good writing, I think you will enjoy reading this book.
Seventy-two year old Harriet Beamer falls off a ladder. Her daughter-in-law, Prudence, makes a bet with Harriet. If the foot is broken, she must come and live with Prudence and Henry. "It was a suckers bet," Harriet says as she plans her trip to California to join them. But she decides to take the long way by local transportation. A friendly stranger helps her find her Droid, Amelia, to plan each new courseâ€”deciding as she goes.
Henry worries as she calls to tell him about her ride on a helicopter and her adventure with the snake-handler. He can only wait as she makes her convoluted way to him. Harriett encounters good and bad people. She gains celebrity when she stops a purse-snatcher with a well-placed rolling suitcase as the incident goes viral.
The reader will smile more than laugh aloud, though the book provides a few of those. If you enjoy old people who don't believe life ends when you reach "maturity" you will enjoy this book. It may provide a pleasant Sunday afternoon diversion.
When 72-year-old Harriet Beamer loses a bet with her daughter-in-law Prudence about whether a fall off a chair resulted in her breaking her ankle or not, she has no choice but to sell her house and move clear across the country to California. However, a sudden realization that she's always let others chart her course for her embarks her on a journey across the country - by bus, train, helicopter, or motorcycle. Along the way she meets a cast of colourful characters and gets herself into - and out of - a heap of troublesome situations. But she soon discovers that with God, anything is possible - and that God still has a plan for her to make a difference with her life.