Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Re-Review - Still Life by Louise Penny

I learn better from novels than from treatises of any sort.  More is said, in fewer words in a novel.  As I identify with the characters and their problems and choices I find out where my own weaknesses and strengths lie.  I discover my humanity in a much more poignant way.  While this is true of most fiction, it is especially true when reading Louise Penny.  As this is the case and as I have a lot to learn about myself and my motives; I've decided to re-read Louise's Chief Inspector Gamache series.

Still Life is about how we tend to stagnate and then calcify in our habits and circumstances.  About how we get ourselves into traps and how we have difficulty escaping them.  It is about the lies we tell ourselves in order to continue in our self-deception.  And it is about how utterly emancipating honesty can be in our relationship with ourselves and others.

I didn't discover Louise's talent for teaching me of my own vulnerabilities until the last few of her series.  I wondered if the gift was embedded in the earlier ones as well and was actually surprised to revisit her first and discover and then plumb it's profound depths.

I remember the first time I read this I had a sense that the author knew me.  It was comforting to sit with her work.  As I read further into her work, I felt more and more that, "Here is a writer who gets me!"  It wasn't until I read this one again that I realized that her flawed characters were a better reflection of my own character, than her protagonists were.  I like the mix, for I dearly long to be like the healthy ones and see, in her examination of all their hearts that, I can move from one state to the other.

I have a shelf full of self-help books, which I think I'll toss.  Louise Penny has become my own personal therapist.  And while that my sound miserable (sort of like going to the Dentist) it is not!  It is a joyous, enlightening, thrilling ride!  Reading this book has been like going over the spillway after drifting stagnantly on the calm lake, way too long.  How she does this in a cozy mystery is beyond me, but that too is a talent I long to imitate.  There is nothing so powerful as a story.  What a story this is!

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