Wednesday, 5 March 2008

My invincible summer

snow, freezing rain, strong winds, another storm, temps minus 7

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me
there lay an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

Well, this is certainly a winter of depth, and length! But what a summer inside! Yesterday was the US launch for THE CRUELEST MONTH. The good people at Goldberg McDuffie Communication in New York, the publicity company hired to take the books to the next level, sent a goegeous bouquet of roses. Especially stunning on a dreadful, dramatic day like this. It's a 'water in the tub' day - in case the power goes out. Oh dear, I can hear a drip behind me, which means the roof is leaking too. Oh well. It's always something.

We had the most wonderful review of THE CRUELEST MONTH from the prestigious publication Mystery News. One of the editors, Lynn Kaczmarek, did the review herself and gave it five out of five quills. Here's what she wrote:

The Cruelest Month, by Louise Penny

Somehow in this day of the thriller where crime fiction is becoming more noir by the moment, Louise Penny is almost single handedly taking us back to the good old days of the traditional village mystery. Influenced by Simenon, Christie and Sayers before her, Penny is doing them all one better. Still Life won most of the major awards, A Fatal Grace was a fitting sophomore effort, but The Cruelest Month soars above them all.

Luckily, we’re back in Three Pines once more with our cadre of friends, including Peter and Clara Morrow (both painters—though Clara may just be more talented), Gabri, (whose partner Olivier owns the local bistro), Myrna (whose large and generous frame is almost as big as her heart), Ruth Zardo (the all-too-direct nationally known poet who is found with two baby ducks following behind), and Odile (who is definitely not a nationally known poet). It turns out that there is a psychic in town on vacation and a group of folks decide to go up to the Old Hadley place for a séance. All in good fun, really—until one of them ends up dead. Could one be scared to death in Three Pines?

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team are called in to investigate. But there’s a traitor in the mix somewhere and Gamache ends up trying to figure out much more than who or what killed another member of the Three Pines family.

These books are so much more than traditional mysteries—the writing is sublime and the characters unique yet much more developed than their individual quirks. They can be kind and cruel. It’s so easy to love Gamache—intelligent, compassionate, he’s the one rooting for the underdog. But to somehow love Ruth Zardo as well? Not an easy feat.

In Louise Penny’s books, these characters breathe. And they die. “Loss was like that, Gamache knew. You didn’t just lose a loved one. You lost your heart, your memories, your laughter, your brain and it even took your bones. Eventually it all came back, but different. Rearranged.”

And this place, this wonderous, fantastical place—“How do you explain a village like Three Pines where poets take ducks for walks and art seems to fall from the skies.” The answer, of course, is that you don’t. You’re just incredibly thankful that it exists, if only in the brilliant mind of Louise Penny.

Characters and place really do it for me, but the intriguing nad complex plot made this book one of the best reading experiences I’ve had in a while. Me, the fireplace, snow falling quietly outside and The Cruelest Month—it was magical.
My recommendation is that you go out right now and buy copies of Still Life and A Fatal Grace and immerse yourself in this world. You should have them finished just in time to read The Cruelest Month and behold the ushering in of a new era of traditional mysteries—21st century-style.

And on that note, my friends, I'll leave you. Breakfast, then back to Three Pines. My goal is to hit a certain scene, a turning point in the book, before the US tour begins on Sunday. Lots of writing, but I mapped it out yesterday. Hope I don't spring a leak.

Be well.


Dee said...

Good morning Louise
What a wonderful review - and well-deserved, of course. It just sums up what your loyal regular readers already know, and will introduce your great writing, and Three Pines to a great many more. Have a successful ( and enjoyable, fun ) book tour.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Dee,

Thank you - one of the great joys (and many joys) of the blog is that I know I'm writing to people who read the book I meant to write. Who see it the way I do. Including you. Thank you.

makes writing the next one all the more fun. And must return. They're all (against all odds) about to go to the bistro for drinks before dinner. Can't make them wait.


Lesa said...


I finished The Cruelest Month this afternoon, and reviewed it on my blog today. The review you already received says it all.

Thank you for a wonderful, wonderful book. I can't wait to meet you in Scottsdale, and thank you in person.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Lesa,

A mutual 'friend' Larry wrote yesterday to tell me about your review so I scooted over there and read it. And am SO pleased - and so grateful to you. As I said before, as a writer I can't begin to tell you how moving it is when a person reads the book I'd intended to write. It's an almost mystical connection.

Thank you Lesa - and so pleased I'll get a chance to thank you in person!

see you in Scottsdale in a week.


Lesa said...

I can't wait, Louise! And, I'm bringing a friend, and I know of three other people who plan to be there. If I know people, there must be a lot more coming. See you then!

Good luck with all of your connections, and the trip!