Postcards from Three Pines: The Cruelest Month

The Cruelest Month Postcard
“Happy Easter! Writing is coming a bit easier. More confident I can actually do this. Season of rebirth to new life for me. Exciting!”
AN EXCERPT FROM THE CRUELEST MONTH

‘So what did Ruth want?’ Olivier asked, as he placed single malt Scotches in front of Myrna and Gabri. Odile and Gilles had gone home but everyone else was in the bistro. Clara waved to Peter, who was shrugging out of his coat and hanging it on a peg by the door. She’d called him as soon as the séance had ended and invited him to the post-mortem.

‘Well, at first we thought she was yelling “fuck”,’ said Myrna, ‘then we realized she was yelling “duck”.’

‘Duck? Really?’ said Olivier, sitting on the arm of Gabri’s wing chair and sipping cognac. ‘Duck? Do you think she’s been saying that all along?’

‘And we just misheard?’ asked Myrna. ‘Duck off. Is that what she said to me the other day?’

‘Duck you?’ said Clara. ‘It’s possible. She is often in a fowl mood.’

Monsieur Béliveau laughed and looked over at Madeleine, pale and quiet beside him.

The fine April day had given way to a cold and damp night. It was getting on for midnight and they were the only ones in the bistro now.

‘What did she want?’ Peter asked.
‘Help with some duck eggs. Remember the ones we found by the pond this afternoon?’ said Clara, turning to Mad. ‘Are you all right?’

‘I’m fine.’ Madeleine smiled. ‘Just a little edgy.’

‘I’m sorry about that,’ said Jeanne. She sat on a hard chair slightly outside their circle. She’d reverted to her mousy self; all evidence of the strong, calm psychic had evaporated as soon as the lights had come on.

‘Oh, no, I’m sure it’s nothing to do with the séance,’ Madeleine assured her. ‘We had coffee after dinner and it must have had caffeine. It affects me that way.’

‘Mais, ce n’est pas possible,’ Monsieur Béliveau said. ‘I’m sure it was decaf.’ Though he was feeling a little edgy himself.

‘What’s the story with the eggs?’ asked Olivier, smoothing the crease on his immaculate corduroys.

‘Seems Ruth went to the pond after we’d left and picked them up,’ Clara explained.

‘Oh, no,’ said Mad.

‘Then the birds came back and wouldn’t sit on the nest,’ said Clara. ‘Just as you predicted. So Ruth took the eggs home.’

‘To eat?’ asked Myrna.

‘To hatch,’ said Gabri, who’d gone with Clara back to Ruth’s tiny house to see if they could help.

‘She didn’t sit on them, did she?’ Myrna asked, not sure if she was amused or repulsed by the image.

‘No, it was actually quite sweet. When we arrived the eggs were sitting on a soft flannel blanket in a basket. She’d put the whole lot in her oven on low.’

‘Good idea,’ said Peter. Like the rest, he’d have expected Ruth to devour, not save, them.

‘I don’t think she’s had that oven on in years. Keeps saying it takes too much energy,’ said Myrna.

‘Well, she has it on now,’ said Clara. ‘Trying to hatch the ducks. Those poor parents.’ She picked up her Scotch and glanced out the window to the darkness of the village green and imagined the parents sitting by the pond, at the spot where their young family had been, where their babies had sat in their little shells, trusting that Mom and Dad would keep them safe and warm. Ducks mate for life, Clara knew. That’s why duck hunting season was particularly cruel. Every now and then in the fall you’d see a lone duck, quacking. Calling. Waiting for its spouse. And for the rest of its life it would wait.

Discussion on “Postcards from Three Pines: The Cruelest Month

  1. Susan Copper says:

    My gift to myself is that I re-read one Gamache book (well, maybe two!) each year. It’s always the perfect size, color, etc. and I’m never disappointed. A fine way to tide me over until the next breathtaking installment.

  2. Linda says:

    Ruth is,my alter- ego. True! And I have a crush on Gamache.

  3. LOUISE BOUCHER says:

    I’ve read the entire series twice but now I want to own them to read whenever I’m so inclined so I can get that fuzzy-warm bistro feel!

  4. Gitte Collins says:

    I love all of the books and have read them as well as listened to them a few times! So looking forward to Kingdom of The Blind the coming out n November 27th! Have already pre-ordered it!

  5. Sharon Mcdermott says:

    I also have read every book and my husband too. So three pines is a real place? We are waiting for the next book.

  6. Patricia A Scott says:

    Oh, I cannot wait for the next book. I love them all.

  7. Sherilyn Ranstrom says:

    I so love Louise Penny’s books. The characters are wonderful, Three Pines is wonderful and the books have stimulated a real love for Quebec. Have visited twice in the last year

  8. Sharon Bouchard says:

    Love you, Louise…love Bishop…2 years this month since your beloved Michael left this Earth. I’m proud of you for your strength and endurance. — I love all of your Gamache books and the characters…and I am deeply immersed while reading them. I am collecting all of them in the trade paperback editions…just need 4 more. God Bless You…and I hope you never stop writing a new Three Pines Mystery each year.

  9. Bettie Westphall says:

    Thank you, Louise. I don’t know of another author who would be so generous with their readers! Each time a newsletter, a postcard, any bit of your words, arrive in my email it seems as if you knew I needed a boost just then. Your books are so affirming, so comforting, about the good that remains in people and society. We all need that these days. Thank you.

  10. Cynthia Barnard says:

    oh! i do love these folks in 3 Pines!! if Louise ever wants to visit beautiful Ashland, OREGON in Southern Oregon, we’ll make it memorable… loads of book clubs and fascinating folks live here and your welcome will be amazing! Loads of fascinating local tales— nothing to compare to 3 Pinea, but close—perhaps!

  11. Darlene mantione says:

    Thank you for the postcards. It is wonderful to revisit the books in small pieces and reflect on your vivid thoughts and descriptions. You have a way of making us all part of the small village. I would like to be the one sipping cognac by the fire

  12. Madeleine LeBlanc says:

    My grandfather was from the Gaspe area…I LOVE the books and imagine myself as truly French

  13. Diane Cobb says:

    It was good to be reminded of how Ruth found her best friend

  14. Pati Wilson says:

    Sitting in a chalet in West Bolton, having had a late lunch at Le Relais (the Bistro), and staring at the spectacular green valley with fog rolling over the trees. Knowlton is charming and we’ll go back tomorrow for the bookstore and perhaps another meal at Le Relais. Three Pines is a fictional town using the best of the area, but the area as it is is pretty darn nice. Encouraging every fan to make the trip if you can.

  15. Jade says:

    These postcards are everything….at least until November 27! I love this postcard in particular, as it marks the start of Ruth and Rosa, who may be my favorite pairing in the series.

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