Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Review - Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache Series

I suppose I'm cheating by reviewing these novels collectively.  I can't really help it.  They were so captivating that I couldn't stop to review them but had to hurry on to the next installment.

Booklogged has been working on me pretty hard to read these and I wonder why I ever resist her suggestions.  She and I traveled to Quebec three years ago this month.  I found the graves of some of my ancestors in a little town called Sutton near the Vermont border.  We fell in love with the place as well as nearby Knowlton.  These books are set in the same general vicinity and the charm of Penny's village of Three Pines and the wonderful people who live there take me back to that priceless journey.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, our main character finds himself visiting Three Pines all too frequently if you judge a village by the number of murders that take place there.  But, he (who resides in Montreal) and the locals are such a delightful combination I found myself disappointed that the fifth volume wasn't centered in Three Pines.  That is until I actually read it.

Penny artfully uses her mysteries to examine human nature.  Her insight is magnificent and delightful.  Great writers teach us about ourselves and so it is with Penny's work.  As she examines the hearts of her richly developed characters she gives me a view into my own heart and motivations.  Inspector Gamache is set up to be the bench mark of character and wholeness.  We measure the others and ourselves against his qualities we are all wont to emulate.  As they, and we spend time in his presence we grow in honesty, candor, integrity, peace and surety.

Here a couple of quotes that impressed and inspired me:
Our secrets make us sick because the separate us from other people.  Keep us alone.  Turn us into fearful, angry, bitter people.  Turn us against others and finally against ourselves.
Attachment masquerades as love, pity as compassion and indifference as equanimity.
She looked at him.  She often felt foolish, ill constructed, next to others. Beside Gamache she only ever felt whole.

I can't think of a thing I'd rather have said about me than that last quote.  It would be so grand to be so confident and comfortable with one's self that you only ever spent yourself lifting others.  It is interesting that while Armand Gamache spends his time catching murderers, he accomplishes much more by helping heal broken hearts and souls.  His chief weapon?  An attentive, listening ear.  I need to spend more time with Armand Gamache.

The next novel in Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series is set in Quebec City, another favorite place of mine.  There are hints that Three Pines, still plays a role, however.  It is called Bury Your Dead and is expected out in September.

I've often dissed on book series', but this time it occurred to me that it is a very efficient method considering that characters need not be introduced more than once.  In this case, I have such a fondness for several characters, I look forward to spending more time with them.

People say Quebec is not a very welcoming place and that they despise Anglo-phones.  Such was not our experience.  We spent a day and a half in eastern Quebec and never found anyone who spoke any English.  Still they treated us with kindness and were most pleasant in their efforts to assist us despite our language and cultural differences.  If others have a different experience my guess is they took the disharmony with them in their own luggage.  I suspect Louise Penny would say the same.

A joyous five stars!

1 comment:

Booklogged said...

Wonderful review. You sum up my feelings about this series so much better than I could. It's fun to have you like them as much as I did and be able to discuss them with you. What am I talking about?! I've only read the first 3! Tomorrow I get to start on book 4. YAY! That is, if you haven't lost it!

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