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Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus

4.6 8
by Joyce Magnin

Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if


Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle—and her heart—are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture—God has a different plan.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)

Product Details

Publication date:
Harriet Beamer SeriesSeries Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Joyce Magnin is the author of five novels, including the popular and quirky Bright’s Pond Series, and the middle grade novel, Carrying Mason. She is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor. Joyce lives in Pennsylvania with her son, Adam, and their crazy cat, Mango, who likes to eat nachos.

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Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
What a perfectly delightful read! I absolutely love Harriet Beamer, and I would love to grow up to be like her some day. She is the absolutely ideal senior citizen who has decided her life is still not over. She knows that even in her golden years, God is not finished with her yet. I was absolutely enthralled with Harriet's journey. And just when I did not think the mode of travel could get any zanier, it did! No spoilers here. If you want to know of Harriet's travel, you must read it. I was enchanted with the way in which Harriet, Henry, and Prudence evolved over the course of the book. I did not think Prudence had any gumption, but by the end of the book, I was glad to see her spunk. And Henry and Humphrey truly bonded to the point that Humphrey became Henry's muse. I would love to have a dog like Humphrey! I most appreciated the way in which God was woven into the fabric of the story. It was good to see Harriet's faith being so apparent in her every day dealings with each person she met. She never tried to force her beliefs on anyone. They were just a part of who she was. In conclusion, I now want to go on a trip like this. I wish I were a retired lady with lots of money and no real responsibilities. I would go in a heartbeat. I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Mamakucingbooks More than 1 year ago
I had received this book from the Publisher, Zondervan, on Monday afternoon in exchange of an honest review. All opinion stated herein is mine. This book came in a good time as my family was facing a bit of a crisis. My son caught Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD from the kindergarten and it spread to my husband. My husband got it very bad. Can't walk nor hold anything cause it's too painful. This book came on a perfect timing. I had just finished reading one book and was looking for something soothing to read in time of crisis. Almost immediately, I fell in love with the 72 years old "Harriet" and her unconventional ways. When I read the words, I felt that "Harriet" is alive and is not a fictional character. Some may think what is so great about the story of an old lady. Well, let me tell you this is not your average old lady. Initially she was just a widow and some may say "waiting to be put out of her pasture". But when the push came, she made up her mind and her strong faith in God that He have a purpose for her on earth and that she somehow have not done what God put her to do on earth. Although this book is classified as Christian Fiction, but to me it was not preachy at all. Harriet is just a person with a strong believe in God's will. She is open indeed and willing to accept and associate with people who are not from the same faith or Church as her. It's hard to pin point which part that I love the most in this book. I guess if forced to choose, I would say it's the part when Harriet recalls that Miss Kitty had said to her "Go, Harriet, your life is your own." and crisis strikes Harriet made up her mind that her life is not her own. Her life is God's , and for him to do with what he wanted, not what she desired. That was the most touching part for me. I loved all Harriet's adventures and hopefully this book can and will make its way into a movie. It's really inspirational for me to read this. For me this book rank the same as "Tuesday with Morrie" by Mitch Albom, to be read not once but more than that. Thank you to Susan from Zondervan for acceding to my request for the hardcopy of the book and maybe because of that the arrival of the book is like a blessing in disguise for me. I rate this book 5 stars and is a MUST READ
timetravel More than 1 year ago
As someone with a huge salt and pepper shaker collection how could I not love a book about a woman who shares that interest! Harriet has reached a certain point in her life when she knows she needs to make a change. Her husband has passed and she feels as though she has never accomplished anything. After losing a bet, she agrees to move in with her son and daughter-in-law. She packs up her huge salt and pepper shaker collection and sends her dog ahead to her son’s home. But Harriet decides that she will set off to travel cross country by bus – not the Greyhound kind - but local transportation whenever possible. Her main goal is to make it to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg TN. (yes, it really exists) Harriet Beamer Takes a Bus is a delightful story of an older woman as she discovers things she never knew about travel, people, and her own family. She has quite a few adventures along the way and meets many interesting people. She reaches out to people who are hurting and shares her wisdom, but also opens her heart and learns much in return from them. Thank you to Zondervan for the advanced reader copy of this book. I accepted the book with the understanding that I would give my honest opinion.
rmattos More than 1 year ago
The author did a magnificent job creating this wonderful character named Harriet Beamer. She is a sweet old lady that lives alone with her dog (Humphrey) in her home in Pennsylvania, missing her late husband (Max) and with her son Henry living in California with his wife Prudence. After breaking her ankle and loosing a bet, she sells her house in order to move to California, to live with Henry, but she decided to take the long trip to the new home. She ships her dog and most of her belongings (that include an impressive collection of salt and pepper shakers) directly to her son's house in California and she start her trip using public transportation, instead of just taking the airplane. She goes to different places, meeting interesting people and making difference in the life of many. Her trip is assembled on the fly, depending on which ways of transport she can find. She keeps a journal where she writes to Max, and her Droid phone (Amelia) is a useful toll as it has a built in GPS to tell her the directions she wants to go, finding hotels and restaurants. She also communicates frequently with her old friend and neighbor Martha. Being an inspiration to many old people that simply give up and live their last days "in the pasture", Harriet decided to discover her country and for the first time live a life of adventures. In a certain way this book reminded me of a movie named "The Bucket List", with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson (2007). The author had a great sensibility in showing how Harriet's faith was increasing during her journey and how her dependence on God was giving her confidence. I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers how enjoy a very well written story and want to be entertained for three or four days. It took me around 11 hours to finish reading this book. This book was written by Joyce Magnin and published by Zondervan in 2012 and the author was kind enough to give me an electronic copy of her book for reviewing, through her representative Susan from Shelton Interactive.
PatWKirk More than 1 year ago
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 course—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. I received this book from NetGalley. It is an honest review.
tmurrell2 More than 1 year ago
Harriet loses a bet and now has to sell her home and move across country to live with her son and daughter-in-law. So puts her dog on a plane and makes her way across country using only local buses, taxis and the kindness of strangers. This was a really cute book. The story was fun and entertaining. It was neat to see the country through the eyes of an "older" person. There were some thoughtful moments in the book, but mostly it was just clean, light fun. Some of the stories seemed a little surreal, but not enough that it bothered me. I received this book free of charge from Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.
jallee More than 1 year ago
In Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, the title character is a widowed senior citizen who collects salt and pepper shakers and has meaningful conversations with her basset hound, Humphrey. While decorating her Christmas tree, Harriet takes a spill and breaks her ankle. The discovery that the ankle is indeed broken causes her to lose an impulsive bet with her daughter-in-law. Always one to keep her word, Harriet must now pack up her shakers, sell her house, and move from Philadelphia to Grass Valley, California. Harriet's none too happy about it, but she decides to do it on her own terms. Harriet decides to take the bus. And not a Greyhound. Oh no. Harriet will take public transportation across the country. The ensuing road trip is filled with discovery as Harriet sets out on the adventure of her life. She meets every kind of person you can think of, touching lives along the way. As she changes them, Harriet herself changes. She trades in her nice shoes and dresses for sneakers and jeans. She learns how to use a smart phone and a GPS. Better still, God uses her experiences to transform Harriet on the inside. This is a lovely, gentle book. As Harriet makes her way to California on buses, trains, motorcycles, and whatever way she can, her son, Henry and wife Prudence are dealing with their own issues. Henry goes from being worried about his mom to rooting her on. As does Humphrey, who waits patiently for his owner in California, encouraging the humans around him anyway he can. Joyce has written a much-loved series of books about Bright's Pond . In her latest novel, she continues to live up to her reputation for creating characters with heart and soul. I'd encourage anyone to pick up Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus. It's a trip worth taking! NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.
Bookmobile_Driver More than 1 year ago
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.”