Thank you, Louise Penny

The last weeks of summer were the proverbial “gift that keeps on giving” for reading: Celeste Ng’s family saga, Little Fires Everywhere, followed by Richard Russo’s Chances Are… (tour de force, as expected), which I finished just as Louise Penny’s newest Inspector Gamache novel, A Better Man, landed on my doorstep.

If you’ve read any of my “bookish” posts, you know that I’m more interested in writing about an author’s body of work than any single publication. I love to watch a writer grow and change over time as much as his or her characters do.

I “found” Louise Penny in about 2007. We’d just had our first few trips to Québec and had fallen head over heels in love with the province. As a great fan of place in novels, I wondered if there might be any series set there. I did an online search for books set in Québec and found Still Life, the first in the series. I’ve read every Gamache since, anticipating each new release like a five-year-old in the pre-dawn hours on Christmas morning. They’re among the few I always order pre-publication. Gamache’s struggles to reconcile his personal moral code with the realpolitik that surrounds him are epic. As he grows and changes over the years, those around him do, too—not only his colleagues in the Sûreté de Québec but also his family and the quirky inhabitants of Three Pines, who have become more and more attractive to me with each book in the series.

A Better Man, like most of the Gamache books that preceded it, had me guessing to the very end. We watch a ton of English, Canadian, and Australian TV mysteries (hurray for Acorn!). I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting the outcome of most, but I can never predict how a Gamache novel will resolve. Penny’s stories are good mysteries but more important, they are multi-layered moral tales whose characters’ inner struggles are revealed brilliantly on page after page. Nothing is easy—Gamache ever pursues the greater good but often eschews the safer choice, regardless of the impact on his position or reputation, or his relationship with those around him. He bears the pain of some very risky decisions that have exacted a terrible price yet always represented the higher ground. I am never quite sure where he will ultimately land.

Louise Penny has won so many awards that she surely doesn’t need plaudits from me. But one of the things I love most about blogging is the opportunity just to say a simple “thank you” to the writers who have given me so much joy. I hope we can look forward to yet another Gamache release next August.

You can find A Better Man on the Indiebound, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble websites.

15 thoughts on “Thank you, Louise Penny

  1. Maureen Hart

    Angela, I am in love with Gamache–I would marry him if I could. I found the book “Bury Your Dead” in our Little Free Library, and read it without realizing it was part of a series. I loved the setting in Quebec City, and the historical background. It inspired my return trip to Quebec this summer.
    Then I backed up and started at the beginning with “Still Life.” I still have a way to go before I get through the series, but if I cannot marry Gamache, can I at least live in Three Pines?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. updatediva

    Really good covers. I can’t abide by mysteries as a rule (and just wasted 1:48 hours of my life last night watching Personal Shopper) but I might make an exception for Louise Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ron

    Hi Angela, a great author overview. As a fellow lover of Quebec and murder mysteries, I know not why Louise Penny’s novels haven’t made it to our bookshelf. I’ve just checked our Swedish online book monopoly (Bokus) and her full catalog of books are available in English and Swedish. I think I’ve found the perfect first item to go on my Christmas list.
    FYI; as a lover of mysteries you’ve likely read the Wallander series of novels by the late and great Swedish writer Henning Mankell. But if you haen’t I think you’d enjoy them. I highly recommend reading the series of novel by order of release.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Angela

      Ron, so glad you found them! Just remember that they get better as you progress. I haven’t read the Wallander mysteries, but the TV series is available on our international streaming service and has many fans. I’ll add Mankell to my queue!

      Like

  4. restlessjo

    Do you re-read any of them, Angela? I often wonder about the books on people’s shelves. I seldom reread any of mine. Good to have you so excited about an authoress 🙂 🙂 And did you have a good holiday?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Angela

      I do occasionally re-read a book, but I haven’t done so with these. My daughter and I pass Inspector Gamache back and forth. Neither of us wants to part with the more recent volumes. Certain become like old friends—just knowing they’re on the shelf is a comfort. The trip was grand—just too short this time. Blog posts coming. Thank you for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pat Thurin

    I have no idea what took me so long to read your blog! Just saw your comment on John’s Boston blog, so went right to yours. Wish John could have met you while he has been in New England. I will be getting Louise Penny series. Thank you Angela.

    Liked by 1 person

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