Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review - How The Light Get's In by Louise Penny


Finally, this long awaited book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series has arrived and been devoured!

I don't know if this is the last in the series (she left it somewhat open ended) but so much of the long and wonderful story was culminated in this volume.  While I can't imagine where she'd go from here, I've come to discover that Penny's imagination far exceeds my own.

I am always reading three books at a time and as it happens, some poor author has to have his work placed side by side with this and when compared with Louise Penny's work it seems a wonder that his got published at all.  Conspicuously absent are depth, theme, purpose, strong character development and credibility.  I only say this because, read alone, the other book is really quite acceptable, even exciting to read.  You see, I don't want to tear the other author down at all, I just want to elevate Louise's work to the pedestal it so richly deserves!

The story, lives, and circumstances of this volume were prepared and alluded to from the beginning of the series which seems utterly amazing to me.  She's obviously known where it all was going from the very beginning.  How ambitious, when considering the struggle she experienced to get the first volume even published.  How, disappointing, had she failed.  I don't generally like series.  I don't enjoy feeling entrapped into committing to more books in order to find out how it all turns out.  No so with this series.  Each book has been a gem in it's own right and the entire thread has been more than compelling!

The title of this volume is based on a verse from Leonard Cohen's Anthem:
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There's a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.
I loved the concept when Louise introduced it to me years ago in a previous volume.  I love it even more now.  Back then I thought is wonderful advice for those, who like me are paralyzed by perfectionism.  Now, I think it more deeply expresses the critical need for weakness in our heroes, flaws in our plans, flies in our ointment and chinks in our armor.  The beauty of this and any story lies in the fact that life is happening to us, imperfect human beings, who were intended to have a completely mortal experience.  What would be so great about any of our stories if there was nothing to transcend?  Clearly perfection is not all it's cracked up to be. Transcendence, Penny's teaches in such subtle ways, comes from humility, more than capability, love more than ambition, honesty more than objective and loyalty more than security.  If you think she's wrong, let her persuade you herself.
...by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.                                            Alma 37:6

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