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. Annette Lynge says:

    I love the books, you feel you actually know all the people and the village

  2. Donzelle (Donnie) says:

    Louise. Love the postcards what a lovely idea. Like others I am waiting for
    Your new book kingdom of the blind .we know it will be another winner.

  3. Joanne says:

    Louise, I am anxiously awaiting for the newest Chief Gamache book. It is so hard to not to be reading one of your books. Looking forward to November!!

  4. Robin Watson says:

    Just wonderful and a reminder of why we love your writing so much.

  5. Judie Larkins says:

    Louise Penny is an international treasure. I can’t help but compare all other detectives to Gamache and none is so fully alive to me!

  6. Karen Murphy says:

    I re-read the entire series before the new book is released. You would think I’d have each memorized by now! Instead, I find a new clue or nugget or nuance with each reading. One day soon I will visit Maison Hovey and Knowlton. Thank you, Louise Penny. You are such a pleasure and a treasure.

  7. Lynn Perkins says:

    I’m crying, I feel so bad for the duck parents…

  8. I have truly enjoyed each new book in the series. I want to visit Quebec and search for Three Pines.

  9. Rita Martin says:

    Such a delight – I wasn’t expecting to get entranced and sucked into this lovely series. I started with the last one – then realised it was part of a series – and started from the beginning. Have totally fallen for these caracherts and this intriguing place. Can’t wait for the new book in November

  10. Beth V Gray says:

    Like all of the other books, “Cruelest Month” is a rich layer of beautiful words, poetry, great quotes, continuing threads of thought mixed withe new understandings, symbolism of nature, nuanced people, and a great underpinning of what is right and what is wrong. Gamache is the ideal police officer. Penny’s books take me outside of myself into a world that I feel I belong; when I return to home base, I feel that I know myself just a little bit better than I did before.

  11. Paula says:

    Waiting for your Tampa dates to post on my calendar!
    Your way with words takes me away to another place. I love your descriptions of not only nature around you but also the smells and taste of the food. I think everyone loves that. Keep on writing.

  12. Linda Beals says:

    I love the rich character development and the delightful and humorous banter.

  13. Judy Williams says:

    I am slowly working my way through the series, hoping always to have at least one or two ready to listen to. I wait until I need a “comfort book” to listen to. I love the characters and the place and the opinions and the humor and the mysteries. The last one I read was The Beautiful Mystery. The subject was typically interesting, but this one especially intrigued me. I am so glad I was introduced to Louise Penny and Shady Pines.

  14. Karen Weflen says:

    My favorite author. Recommend to everyone!

  15. Ann D Smits says:

    Thank you, Louise, for these postcards from Three Pines, They bring us closer to your wonderful characters , who most of us consider to be old friends after reading all of your beautifully written books. I, too, have decided to go back & reread all of your books & I look forward to getting reacquainted with each jewel. Never stop writing , dear Louise, we would all be bereft without you in our lives!

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