Friday, 3 June 2011

Arthur Ellis, Brother Charles, Manoir Hovey - oh my!

brilliant sun - cool - temps 14

Warming up. We're back home after an eventful - and unexpected - 24 hours!

As many of you might have heard...BURY YOUR DEAD has won the Arthur Ellis Award, given out by the Crime Writers of Canada - for Best Crime Novel of 2010!!! It is so deeply moving, and meaningful, to be recognized in my own country, by fellow writers, and readers.

The awards were announced at the Ellis banquet, held this year in the beautiful city of Victoria, British Columbia. Unfortunately, Michael and I couldn't be there - wrestling with writing! But Tony Bidulka, my friend and fellow crime writer, accepted for me. he was also the MC for the night. And a past nominee. If you don't know his, you must check out his books. Just look up Anthony Bidulka!

And congratulations to all the winners.

Stevie Cameron for her non-fiction book: On The Farm
Short story: So Much in Common, by Mary Jane Maffini, published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.
Juvenile/young adult: The Worst Thing She Ever Did, by Alice Kuipers.
French: Dans le quartier des agités, by Jacques Côté.
First novel: The Debba, by Avner Mandleman.
John Jeneroux picked up the Unhanged Arthur Award, which recognizes the best unpublished first crime novel, for his manuscript Better Off Dead.

Yesterday began at 5:15, when our alarm went off. We hopped (well, that might be an exaggeration) out of bed and were in our cars by 6am. Michael in his 'real' car and me in the Volks beetle.

The beetle had a 7:20 appointment at the dealership, 1:20 minutes away in Sherbrooke.

We scooted there, arrived right on time, and handed it over....for its check up - but also to change the tires. I was still driving on the winter tires and even in Quebec, it's safe to change to regular tires by June.

Then we headed to Hovey manor for breakfast. ahhhh - bliss. Eating a honey, granny smith apple, mushroom and feta cheese omlet, while looking out over the rose garden.

I turned to Michael and said, 'I have an idea.'

Now, Michael's smiles range from the absolutely luminous - when told that lobster fest had begun in the village to polite, when told that Buttercup Penny - the hound from hell - would be visiting.

And then there was a special category of smile reserved for when I say, 'I have an idea.' More grimace, really, than smile now that I think of it.

He grimaced and asked what it was.

It turned out the car wouldn't be ready until late in the day - which meant we either fought rush hour traffic through Sherbrooke at 5pm - having driven an hour and twenty to even get to the city - or we could return the next afternoon. Still, frankly, a pain.


'Why don't we just stay at Hovey for the night?'

Now, this wasn't as insane as it sounds. Hovey is only about 15 minutes drive from Sherbrooke. We could stay the night, get up early, have breakfast, and drive to the dealership.

There was, however, a flaw, and you might have already seen it. Michael sure did.

'What about our clothes? And toothbrushes?'

Now, I could see he wasn't actually against the idea. In fact, his grimace had become a genuine smile - not lobsterFest luminous, yet, but getting there.

the other element in our day, as you might know, was the whole purpose of it really....being at Brother Charles's final vows. At 11am. At the monastery of Saint Benoit du lac. Which was about half way between hovey and home.

We looked at our watches and realized, given a good tailwind, we could rush home, throw some clothes in a bag and make it in time for final vows.

Off we raced. Got home...estimated we had 10 minutes to pack...ran around like mad. Packed the car. Raced off. ten minutes behind schedule. Fortunately, Lise was there and she lives close to St Benoit - and screamed the 'fast' directions to us as we roared out the driveway. Something about a rocket ship and either route 243 or 245.

We'd be fine, we told ourselves.

And, oddly enough, we were! We got to Saint Benoit with ten minutes to spare. Met Brother Raymond and other guests in the entrance. Found seats. And waited.

I'm not sure I can describe what it was like. All the monks in robes, of course. The abbot in special robes, with a shepherd's staff. The most magnificent organ music. And when the organ died away the monks, without accompaniment, began their Gregorian Chants. And then Brother Charles arrived and I don't think there was a dry eye.

It lasted 2 hours. Afterward, over dinner at Hovey, I asked Michael how he found it. We both, of course, found it deeply moving. To see a man we care about take such a profound step. After all his perseverence, his belief that this was what he was meant and made to do. To see his love of God, his faith. To hear the gentle and loving words of the abbot. To see Brother charles greet all of his brother monks not with a kiss, or a handshake, but by softly touching their heads together.

And then Brother Charles lying, prostrate, for 20 minutes. not budging. Not a quiver of his feet or hands or head. Absolute sublimation.

I asked Michael what he thought about, while the 2 hour service was going on. He said he spent the time praying for Brother Charles. For the Lord to bless him. And for the Lord to continue to shower Brother Charles with his love.

And what, Michael asked, did you think of.

oh oh.

The truth was, while I tried to pray for Brother Charles the whole time, I found my mind drifting. Sometimes to the book I was writing - and actually came up with some ideas. Sometimes to ridiculous things. I got to wondering if gummy bears had any natural ingredients at all. And what would be worse...a spoonful of gummies or a spoonful of canned whipped cream.

And then I remembered to pray for Brother Charles.

And then I wondered if the brothers played any other instruments, or just the organ. And then I wondered how old the organ was. And then I wondered how long a person could live eating just gummie bears. And then I wondered if monks ate gummies.

And then I remembered to pray for Borther Charles.

And so it went.

But I have to say - it was beautiful. The joy was evident. Their adoration evident. And the love Brother Charles has for his community and them for him was evident. It was like watching a particularly beautiful, and gentle, wedding.

then we all went into the basement for a special lunch, celebrating his final vows.

And then - Michael and I went to the monk's shop and bought three things - for you. To thank you for being my writing community. For joining me in Three Pines, and following Armand on his travels, both external and internal.

for always being with me - whether the news is good (like today!!) - or not so good.

What we got are: A box of chocolate covered cranberries, handmade by the Trappist monks in Mistissani Quebec. They're a fabulous as they sound, and it's a miracle they haven't been eaten yet!

A CD of the St Benoit monks singing their world famous Gregorian chants.

And a tote bag, with the monastery on it.

Now, feel free to enter for all three - or if there's one you'd like more than the others, please tell me. I know, for instance, some of you would love the chants - but some of you would rather not be given that. so, if you'd rather not have the chants, please let me know.

To be put in the draw, just write to me at: just put in the subject line which of the gifts you'd like - or all of them - that's good too!

I'll do the draw tomorrow afternoon. Random.

From there, Michael and I went back to Hovey - and after a fabulous dinner of smoked salmon and duck (for michael) and fiddlehead soup and halibut for me - I heard the amazing news about the Arthur Ellis.

What days we have. I know God loves Brother Charles - but we sure feel blessed too.

Thank you for being a part of it.


Anonymous said...

Good Evening Louise, I have known about the AEA since early this morning since I saw an article about it (and yourself) online in The Globe & Mail. Congratulations. It has been quite a week for all and I hope that this award will round up everything nicely and quietly! VT

Marlene said...

There is a Trappist monastery near where I went to college. Some friends & I would travel there a few times a year, mostly to enjoy the quiet and the peace.

So glad that you were able to make it to Brother Charles' ceremony!

Anonymous said...

I've entered the drawing - your day sounds hectic, but exactly right!

Jan J. said...

Yay for your award - I am so happy for you and so well deserved. "Bury Your Dead" is a masterpiece. It really touched my heart so deeply, how the story unfolded of the terrible shoot-out, the father-son love between Gamache and Jean Guy, Gamache's broken heart for Agent Morin, all while deftly handling another complete story of Champlain and Emile and Chiniquy and somehow weaving all the elements and emotions together - a masterpiece, I say again! And happiness for Brother Charles as well! It's wonderful when someone finds their true calling.

Shelagh said...

Oh Louise, What an absolutely beautiful post today. It is almost as if we were with you for Brother Charles ordination. A very moving post. Plus your joy when you realized you and Michael would be able to spend some time at Hovey! And then the news of the Ellis Award! A very special day for you; I am very happy for you. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on a well deserved award! And the post is superb, in every respect! Love reading them... always!


lil Gluckstern said...

Congratulations on the award. It is so well deserved, a wonderful moving book. I like the contrast of you rushing to be time, and then immersed in two hours of contemplation. How generous you are.

Sandra W. from Trumbull said...

Congratulations -well deserved. I do love reading your blog - you are so human!!!! (That sounds dopey but meant kindly.)

Mary said...

What a wonderful experience to enjoy on both occasions. The book award for you love and devotion to writing,the ceremony to Fr Charles' love and devotion to God. Enjoy sharing you days with you:-)

A Novel Woman said...

Congratulations and thank you for sharing these lovely little glimpses into your life!

suzy said...

Thanks for sharing, Louise. Congratulations on the is much deserved.

Barbara said...

Had to laugh about your train of thought during the ceremony. It's similar to how my mind wanders at such times. Congratulations on the award.

A. Wright said...

Congratulations on another well-deserved award, Louise.

As to winning the tote, all I can say is...Yipeee!!


Miss Diane said...

Une émouvante journée, très bien racontée. Félicitations pour "Bury your dead"!