Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Starry, starry Day

Overcast, hot and humid - temps 30 C

It has been an embarrassment of great news lately.  Good thing I'm not easily embarrassed, or dissuaded from spreading the good news!

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY has just received precious pre-publication starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist!  Beyond thrilled.  PW called it 'excellent'.  And Booklist says:

An entire mystery novel centering on Gregorian chants (whose curiously hypnotic allure is called the
“beautiful mystery”)? Yes, indeed, and in the hands of the masterful Penny, the topic proves every bit as able to transfix readers as the chants do their listeners. It begins when the choir director of a monastery in a remote corner of Quebec is murdered, his skull bashed in with a rock. Outsiders are not allowed inside the monastery’s walls, where 24 cloistered monks pray, make chocolate, and sing—though a few years earlier, a homemade recording of their chants was released and created a sensation, helped along by the inaccessibility of the artists. Now, with the murder, the doors of the monastery are opened to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, charged with finding a killer among a group of largely silent monks, who, it quickly becomes apparent, are engaged in a civil war over their music, but one “fought with glances and small gestures”—until now, when rocks have been added to the arsenal. P. D. James, of course, has made a career out of taking her sleuth, Adam Dalgliesh, into closed worlds to investigate murders, and while Penny follows that formula, she layers her plots more intricately than does James, this time adding an entire contrapuntal plot concerning Gamache, Beauvoir, their relationship, the secrets each conceals, and the demons each continues to fight. “The deepest passions could appear dispassionate, the face a smooth plain while something mammoth roiled away underneath,” Gamache thinks, expressing not only his frustration with the case but, inadvertently, the coming crisis in his relationship with Beauvoir. Of course, there is always something mammoth roiling away beneath the surface of Penny’s novels—but this time the roiling is set against the serenity of the chanting, producing a melody of uncommon complexity and beauty.

Before I started my publishing career I didn't realize that, in the US, there are four publications of note, that will review a book before it comes out.  They're VERY influential, since they help booksellers and librarians decide on a book - because they can't read them all.  Getting a starred review is never a given, and never, ever taken lightly.  Much celebrating!!  The Beautiful Mystery comes out August 28th.  Yay!

I started today quite nervous - my Quebec publisher, Flammarion Quebec, had organized a big breakfast at this marvlous restaurant called Soupesoup - and invited all the big booksellers and representatives.  A room packed with all the people you really want to meet.  And impress.  she asked me to do a presentation - in French.  It was too late to back out (but don't think I didn't consider it!).  So I spent much of last night, and early this morning, pacing the floor, practicing.  Very stressful.

But it all turned out all right.  I think.  Well, no one died.  or threw food.  As you see, the bar is set pretty low for  my public events.

Hope you're enjoying the day!

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Congratulations on all points, including being compared with PD James. If I were still teaching a course on modern literature I would include books by James and Penny.

Love the juxtaposition of holy music, delightful chocolate, and Gamache.