Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review - The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

I never cease to be amazed at what Louise Penny can teach me about myself in her novels.  This one is no exception!  I loved reading it a second time where, knowing Louise better and knowing her characters better, I better saw myself in the pages.

April is the cruelest month because it is so unreliable.  It sets you up with pretty warm days, where, trusting, you think you might step out of hiding; then it blasts you back with frigid winds and snow.  Back into to the safety of concealment.  Such it is with life, living and of course love.  So guarded, so concealed we make ourselves sick.
"Our secrets make us sick because they separate us from other people.  Keep us alone.  Turn us into fearful, angry, bitter people.  Turn us against others and finally against ourselves."
Louise offers a wonderful observation about why we keep secrets and what we do to others while keeping them.  She calls it three couplings:  Attachment masquerades as Love, Pity as Compassion and Indifference masquerades as Equanimity.  If we are keeping secrets we are masquerading as something other than what we are.  Consequently, our emotional connection with others is also costumed as something attractive, but is, in reality something else, something destructive.  Her principle protagonist, Chief Inspector Gamache, doesn't keep secrets, doesn't hide behind a mask and this little quote is so very telling as it describes the result:
"She looked at him.  She often felt foolish, ill constructed, next to others.  Beside Gamache she only ever felt whole."
 This is, of course, because of Gamache's open, honest character, which only ever displays the real deal.  Love instead of attachment.  Compassion, not pity.  And Equanimity, certainly not indifference.  Wow! the contrast is stunning.  And quite observable in my own life!  I absolutely love this notion and it is so motivating for me to be more authentic, honest and forthright in my own relationships.
"Strange in Canada, we talk all the time about the one thing we can't control.  The weather.  We can't stop a killing frost and we can't stop the flowers from doing what they were meant to do.  Better to bloom even for an instant, if that's your nature, than live forever in hiding."
Better for everybody.

Thanks again Louise for a wonderful lesson in life.


1 comment:

Kay said...

Myke, your wife sent me your way by saying that you wrote a lovely review of THE CRUELEST MONTH. And I agree with her completely. I think you got to the heart of this book in just a few sentences. Well done!!

I am such a fan of Louise Penny. When people ask me who is my favorite author, I always say Louise Penny. Usually they say, "Who?". Then I get the joy of telling them about her. Well, my husband says I get a little pushy about it. LOL

I'm considering rereading the whole series again in preparation for the new book to come out in late August. I did that with the last book. Not sure how many times I can do that, but I'm sorely tempted. Your review makes me think it is time to revisit this book again.

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