From Kate’s Writing Crate…
I discovered Louise Penny and her mystery books on the CBS Sunday Morning TV program a few weeks ago. If you like Agatha Christie, you will enjoy Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series that begins with Still Life. To date, there are twelve books in the series.
New York Time's bestselling author Louise Penny has won five Agatha Awards. She certainly has Christie’s ability to see into the hearts and minds of murderers. I have lost count of the universally true Insightful Asides I have underlined while reading about the murders in Three Pines, a small Canadian village near the US border.
“It [Three Pines] had croissants and café au lait. It had steak frites and The New York Times. It had a bakery, a bistro, a B. & B., a general store. It had great joy and great sadness and the ability to accept both and be content. It had companionship and kindness. (page 12 in A Fatal Grace, book 2).
Sounds like an idyllic place to live—except for the murders.
Here are a few of my favorite Insightful Asides from the series:
“His [Brother Albert] theory is that life is loss,” said Myrna [bookstore owner] after a moment. “Loss of parents, loss of loves, loss of jobs. So we have to find a higher meaning in our lives than these things and people. Otherwise we’ll lose ourselves.” (page 138 in Still Life, book 1)
“…Murder was deeply human, the murdered and the murderer. To describe the murderer as a monstrosity, a grotesque, was to give him an unfair advantage. No. Murderers were human, and at the root of each murder was an emotion. Warped, no doubt. Twisted and ugly. But an emotion. And one so powerful it had driven a man to make a ghost.” (Chief Inspector Gamache on page 154 of A Fatal Affair, book 2)
“Accepting murder meant accepting there was a murderer. Among them. Close. Someone in that room, almost certainly. One of those smiling, laughing, familiar faces hid thoughts so vile they had to kill.” (Clara Morrow on page 66 of The Cruelest Month, book 3)
“There are four statements that lead to wisdom…You need to learn to say: I don’t know. I’m sorry. I need help and I was wrong.” (Chief Inspector Gamache on page 130 in The Cruelest Month.)
“Hazel Smyth had been off to the funeral home…It was like being kidnapped and taken into a world of hushed words and sympathy for something she couldn’t yet believe had happened.” (page 144 of The Cruelest Month)
“…He saw all the Morrows, trudging along, chained together, weighed down by expectation, disapproval, secrets. Need. Greed. And hate. After years of investigating murders Chief Inspector Gamache knew one thing about hate. It bound you forever to the person you hated. Murder wasn’t committed out of hate, it was done as a terrible act of freedom. To finally rid yourself of the burden.” (page 205 in A Rule Against Murder, book 4)
“Grief was dagger-shaped and sharp and pointed inward. It was made of fresh loss and old sorrow.” (Inspector Gamache on page 262 in A Rule Against Murder)
Poetry plays a big role in Louise Penny’s books and in her writing. Chief Inspector Gamache reads and quotes poems in these books and there is a poet who lives in Three Pines.
Louise Penny thinks reading poetry is essential for writers. As she states in her Acknowledgments on page ix of The Brutal Telling (book 5):
…I actually need to thank the wonderful poets who’ve allowed me to use their works and words. I adore poetry, as you can tell. Indeed it inspires me—with words and emotions. I tell aspiring writers to read poetry, which I think for them is often the literary equivalent of being told to eat Brussels sprouts. They’re none too enthusiastic. But what a shame if a writer doesn’t at least try to find poems that speak to him or her. Poets manage to get into a couplet what I struggle to achieve in an entire book.
I, too, think poetry is essential as does author Ray Bradbury. See posts dated March 9, 2015; March 21, 2016; and April 4, 2016.