Friday, 21 January 2011


light snow, temps minus 9

I know the east coast is getting walloped again! But the brunt is missing us. How strange that New York would be having a tougher winter than Quebec. We're practically the banana belt this year. Hope those of you in the storm area are safe and sound.

We had an event driving in to Montreal yesterday. A car accident. The first I can remember being in since I was a child. And it was totally my fault. We were driving just outside Cowansville and needed gas, so I went to turn left into the gas station and was concentrating on which pump to go to - and not watching the oncoming cars! Seems that's a mistake.

I think I heard a horn screaming and looked up in time to see the bright red (bright red!!! not even gray or white or anything I could pretend was invisible) car bearing down on us. A split second later it hit, right in the passenger's door - where Michael was sitting - and we were shoved over the road. I immediately turned to Michael to make sure he was OK. he said he was. Then I leapt out of the car to make sure the people in the other car were OK. The entire front end of their car was smashed in. But they seemed OK. The young woman was out of the car and was crying. I immediately told them it was completely my fault. This didn't seem news to them. I went to comfort her, but she, quite understandably, waved me off. He was calling the police. The dog in their car was fine.

I went back to Michael and he complained of pain in his side, so we got him out of the car, got his coat on, and took him in to the gas station. Everyone was wonderful. The young couple had calmed down, once they realized everyone was fine - and we commiserated. He'd been in an accident a few years earlier and understood that accidents happen. How kind is that? To comfort me. I was, of course, very upset. Not hysterical - but I wanted to make sure they understood that I took full responsibility - and wanted to make sure they really were OK.

Once out of the car and seated comfortably in the gas station, Michael could take stock and said he was actually OK. Perhaps a little bruised.

The Surete du Quebec arrived along with two tow trucks and everything moved very quickly. The Surete agent was amazing. Very kind, understanding, efficient. She heard our reports of the accident - took notes - reassured me that while it was my fault it clearly was an accident and worse things had happened. And no one was hurt.

When the cars had gone and Pat was about to show up to take us home, I went to thank the Surete agent and she laughed and said that it was her pleasure and that her daughter had won the scholarship in creative writing Michael and I created at the local high school when I signed my first publishing contract. And that she was now studying writing at college. She thanked me for that.

How strange life is.

We went home, thanks to Pat, called the insurance etc. Freshened up, then climbed in car number 2 to continue our trip to Montreal. But decided to stop at the hospital to have Michael checked out. Better be safe. After about 3 hours, and a few scans, they said he was in top shape. Just bruised.

Poor man. I think he's tired of hearing me apologize. And what a brave man, getting back in the car with me driving - and our beetle at that! And with only a few whispered prayers. he said if I'd wanted to kill him I'd done a pretty poor job of it, though he admitted it might have been just a warning. A shot across the bow.

When we got to montreal I ordered two medicinal pizzas and got him a big bar of chocolate. It seems to have worked. He's feeling much better today. I called the two young people from the other car to see if they were OK too - or if some bumps and bruises came up. No answer, but left messages. But spoke to their insurance people today and she said they were just fine.

What a relief!! I don't know if you've ever been in a car accident, but the thought I'd caused it and that anyone might be hurt was horrible. Especially, frankly, hurting Michael.

Though now, of course, he has a big, fat IOU from me. And I can see him scheming how to use it.

I'll tell you too - within the scope of this being a not good event - we were exceptionally lucky. Had I turned into the path of that bus you can see in the photo, or an oncoming truck this would have been a much, much shorter post. And had we not had a fabulous, solid car, well I tremble to think what might have happened in a less robust vehicle.

Normally after something like that we would have stayed in Sutton but I had to get in to Montreal for the launch of Sous la glace at Indigo books today. There's a photo of the poster in the window of Indigo in Montreal. It went very well. And I had a chance to meet Rob Howard - who flew in from Toronto so we could sit down for a couple of hours and talk about the next book. He's the VP of Fenn, which will publish my next few books in Canada. Terrific man - very interesting discussions.

Michael - lucky one - got a bye and stayed home eating chocolate and playing sudoku. And now I must leave you to pamper him some more. He never once, from the moment that car hit to this chastised me. No recriminations, no anger, not even any annoyance. he's just said over and over that accidents happen and not to worry about it. Even as the tow truck took his beautiful car away.

What a lovely and precious man.

tomorrow is his son Vic's birthday - which is a great reason to celebrate. Among many.


Jenny said...

Glad noone was hurt in the accident. And I think chocolate was absolutely called for. Lucky Michael to have a wife who knows that pizza and chocolate always calm unsteady nerves. Safe driving!

plaisanter said...

Oh, my! Such a relief it wasn't worse. Cars + accidents = terror. And your husband is very smart to avoid going down the path of recrimination, that only makes everyone wretched.
I'm glad to see your writing world is going well.

Dana said...

Wow, things happen quickly. Glad all were okay, and that you had your wonderful car to pretect you. Puts awards and such into perspective. Can we try to clone Michael? There is a fortune to be made there.

Barb said...

So sorry about the accidents, it just takes a moment of distraction, doesn't it? Something similar happened to me years ago, with my 2 year old in his car seat with me, I was sleep deprived, and didn't look before changing lanes. That was all it took. Luckily no one hurt then, and what a blessing no one hurt in your incident. Hugs to you and Michael!

lil Gluckstern said...

Glad Michael is okay, and that you are too. Accidents happen to the best of drivers, and I remember being extra careful for a long time after I had my big one. Take care of both of you. Funny how helpful chocolate is..

Jeanine said...

Have already said my prayer of thanksgiving that you and Michael and neither of the other couple were hurt.

Darlene in rainy Vancouver said...

With the snowfalls you experience it's hard to imagine you have had so few accidents (only one?)! Good to know all and everyone is well. I think a car accident is always upsetting, because one's sensibilities are bruised, even if there are no physical marks.

And your wonderful VW will keep you steady in the snow, that's for sure. I know about that.

Melody said...

Louise, I am so sorry to read of your accident, but am so glad everyone is fine!!

Take care.

Ruthie from NH said...

So sorry to read of your accident. Glad everyone is okay. Chocolate and sudoku are always helpful.

JKW said...

I know how this feels. It's a blessing to know everything worked out. Guess who is going to remember to keep the gas tank filled from now on? You are a beautiful person, I'm glad everyone else can see it too. Blessings, Janet

Diane said...

How fortunate no one was hurt. Accidents happen so quick, a momentary nodd off and then we end in the thick of it - I know what I'm talking about!

I'm sure Michael's treat helped ease the bruise. Hope you are planning to ease yours as well.

Cars can be repaired or replaced. Wonderful that they took the full brunt of it.

Jodi said...

Whew, glad everybody's OK! Cars can be replaced, people can't.

Just wondering though, since you write about fictional Surete officers, was it a bit surreal talking to a real one?

(Too funny that her daughter won your scholarship).

Donna K Wisconsin said...


Glad you're all right and everyone else.Car accidents leave people so fragile with a walking--driving-- on eggs feeling for awhile until confidence and time has been restored. Whew

Donna K

suzy said...

Glad you both are safe and sound.

Linda said...

Louise and Michael,
I hope "the day after" finds you with no ill effects. So glad it wasn't any worse.
Be well.

Donna K Wisconsinm said...


If you get bored with chocolate and Soduku you could try ken-ken--challenging and with different levels. Really different. Maybe you've done it.. Donna

Mercedes said...

Quill & Quire (Jan/Feb 2011) made a fleeting reference to your fiction in its lead article, The Boom in Crime Fiction: Catching the Crime Wave.

"... U.S. readers have taken to Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series, set in the quaint Quebec village of Three Pines."

Just thought I would let you know in case you missed it. Glad that you and Michael, the young couple, and their pooch are all all right!

Margaret said...

I am so sorry to read about your accident, and happy that everyone is OK. Cars can always be replaced, people - not so easily.
But the power of chocolate never ceases to amaze me!!

Anonymous said...

Praise the Lord you are alright!! Driving the "real car" was a real asset. However, I am not an attorney, but NEVER admit that you are at fault. If a legal action is started, that can be used against you in court. My insurance agent has told me this. I know you are concerned about the other party, who wouldn't be, and you were embrassed to say the least. If this happens again, simply ask if everyone is OK and call the police.
I don't mean to lecture you, but am just passing along some good advice given to me.

Wyoming, MI USA

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all -

thank you so much for all your kind comments. It's so interesting to hear the perspectives of people all over. The thing in Canada is that there is considered 'no fault' - so admitting or not admitting is more a moral issue than legal. We're not very litigious, and the insurance agent wasn't at all concerned whether I was at fault or not. Makes things very civil. It might, of course, have been different if one of us was seriously injured - but still, the insurance pays.

I spoke to the young woman in the other car the next day and she's just fine as is her boy friend. And spoke to her insurance people and they assured me the couple is just fine too.

What a relief!

PaulM said...

Louise, glad to hear everyone was OK. Just to be clear, not all provinces have "no fault" insurance. Quebec does, as, I believe, does BC, but most of the rest don't. The idea is to prevent legal fees from siphoning money out of the system.

Good thing is that metal can easily be fixed. I had a major T-bone incident with a Hummer last year - luckily no injuries and the car was fixable. Insurance agent was great for the most part and everything was restored back to good order. Not so easy with broken people so am happy to hear you and Michael were fine.

Miss Diane said...

Heureuse de constater que tout s'est bien terminé pour Michael et vous. La voiture sera réparée et rien n'y paraîtra plus. Après tout, un accident peut arriver à n'importe qui... ;-)

Joanne Carnegie said...

Just reading this now, Louise (evening of the 26th), and two things strike me.

1. How like you... is the desire to take responsibility for the accident. I have no doubt that you would have done so even if we lived in a place without no-fault insurance. Very admirable. Your books always deal with the dilemma of what is moral behaviour and what is not, and thus it doesn't surprise me one bit to hear your account of how you behaved in the heat of...crumpling metal.

I suspect that the moral dimension of your books is a major part of what makes them so interesting.

2. I am incredibly thrilled with the comment made by the SQ officer, about her daughter winning the scholarship that you and Michael set up. Talk about serendipity! And I have no doubt that the SQ officer knows all about your books and was well aware of the deliciousness of being a random SQ officer interviewing the creator of the legendary Armand Gamache.

I think you should name a minor character (or a subway station, or a dog, or whatever) after either the mother or the daughter or both.

All that to say that I'm glad the accident was minor, the scans were done, the chocolate was partaken of, and the blog was written!

And in my greedy little mind...that you're still around to write the next Armand Gamache. :)

and take care.