The Annotated Three Pines – A Rule Against Murder

From Pg. 15
There was no television at the Bellechasse and even the radio was patchy, so Environment Canada forecasts weren’t available. Just Patenaude and his near mythical ability to foretell the weather. Each morning when they arrived for breakfast the forecast would be tacked outside the dining room door. For a nation addicted to the weather, he gave them their fix.

Louise’s Thoughts:
The Manoir Bellechasse is inspired by the Manoir Hovey, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Though the Bellechasse is more rustic. I find it so interesting that when I wrote this, it didn’t occur to me to mention wifi. I wonder if that’s a reflection of how little it was used back then (waaay back ten years ago, which in dog and technology years is a lifetime or more), or whether it was a reflection of how little I used wifi. Hmmm, will have to look that up. But I suspect the internet wasn’t so widely available in rural areas. This also, of course, speaks to Canadians’ obsession with the weather, and for good reason. In Canada the weather can kill you.

From Pg. 18
Finally, when they could eat no more, the cheese cart arrived burdened with a selection of local cheeses made by the monks in the nearby Benedictine abbey of Saint- Benoit-du-Lac. The brothers led a contemplative life, raising animals, making cheese and singing Gregorian chants of such beauty that they had, ironically for men who’d deliberately retreated from the world, become world-famous.

Louise’s Thoughts:
Well, hello St-Benoit-du-lac. I’d forgotten that I’d mentioned the monastery here. It became, as you can probably tell by the quote, the inspiration for St-Gilbert-Entre-les Loups, in The Beautiful Mystery. When I wrote A Rule Against Murder, that book and those monks weren’t even a gleam in my eye.

From Pg. 23
Then he laughed at himself. Seeing things not there, hearing words unspoken. He’d come to the Manoir Bellechasse to turn that off, to relax and not look for the stain on the carpet, the knife in the bush, or the back. To stop noticing the malevolent inflections that rode into polite conversation on the backs of reasonable words. And the feelings flattened and folded and turned into something else, like emotional origami. Made to look pretty, but disguising something not at all attractive.

Louise’s Thoughts:
I think we’ve all known people like those Gamache is describing. The smile on the face and the sting in the tail. It’s a truism, and it certainly has been true in my life, that I find comfort in knowing I can turn hurt into something useful. I can unfold the origami and turn it into my own creation. Eventually. Once I get out of the fetal position.

From Pg. 76
“When I first went away to school and was unpacking all my little socks and shoes and slacks, I found a note pinned to my blazer in my father’s handwriting. It said, Never use the first stall in a public washroom.”

Louise’s Thoughts:
Haha – this is actually something my mother said to me. When I moved into my very first apartment on my own, a tiny studio, she came to help. Then, when it was time to leave we hugged at the door, tears in our eyes, and she looked at me and said, ’There’s something I want you to know.” “Yes, Mum.” “Never use the first stall in a public washroom.” Then she turned and left. I often wonder, but didn’t want to ask, how long she’d stored that one up, for that moment. Knowing we’d both need a smile. And to this day, if I can avoid it, I don’t. (Mom did later explain that people use them when they’re in a hurry….’nuff said.)

From Pg. 172
“The first generation makes the money, the second appreciates it, having witnessed the sacrifice, and the third squanders it. We’re the third generation. The four of us. Our father hated us, thought we’d steal his money, ruin the family. He was so afraid of spoiling us he never gave us anything, except stupid advice. Words. That was all.”

Louise’s Thoughts:
I remember hearing this during an interview I conducted on CBC. Can’t now remember who I was interviewing, but it had something to do with one of the “great” industrialist families in Montreal. It seemed so Greek, so tragic, so inevitable, so often true, that I remembered it, and more than ten years later, used it here. Those poor benighted Morrows. Blighted by their own blindness, to how very fortunate they actually were. Failing to do their sums, and adding up what really counted. To be honest, it took me about 35 years to figure that one out myself.

Discussion on “The Annotated Three Pines – A Rule Against Murder

  1. Marie Rutter says:

    I’ve wondered where the “don’t use the first stall in the public bathroom “ originated. I think of it every time I enter one!

  2. Diana Schafer says:

    As a sign of your widespread readership, I often find the first stall the only one available and think of the book every visit.

    • Jane says:

      I never thought about that first stall’s general availability but you and Louise may both be onto something here. Hmmm. I have another comment but I’ll refrain from what my mother referred to as “potty” humor. Thanks for the giggle.

  3. Mary Gregory says:

    Wi had a drink on the terrace of Manoir Hovey just yesterday and after a visit to the beautiful Abbaye. Loved my tour of the Cantons de l’est avec mon amie qui demeure a Magog. I left you a message in the book at the Knowlton. Bookstore a lovely spring vist-lilacs in bloom everywhere. Filled my soul. Merci pour ta vie et tes histoires!

  4. Valerie Horner says:

    How true the paragraph about the three generations! That explains it! Our parents made the sacrifices during WW2, we appreciate our freedoms, and it seems to me the third generation is squandering it with random acts of violence.

  5. Linda says:

    Blighted by their own blindness – I was there once upon a time. I’m not sure how I slipped into it, but I became a very unhappy person. Then one day something (not sure what ) woke me up and I realized I had made my own hell. I began to focus on all I have been given and blessed with. My circumstances haven’t really changed but I have. I am happy, content, and at peace. Gratitude goes a long way toward joy.

    • Carole C. says:

      Often the bad overtakes the good. Thanks for the reminder Linda to be grateful for the good so it can overtake the bad so that happiness can once again prevail. It’s not an easy task but well worth the effort.

  6. Jim Katz says:

    At college in Montreal, I found graffiti on a washroom wall: “Never use the first stall….”
    It was in the second.

  7. Judy Reynolds says:

    I remember this whenever I use a restroom with multiple stalls. I have added my own quirk of not using the second stall because everyone reads your books, and they may be in a hurry, using the second stall.

  8. Pete says:

    The family you were interviewing were the Bronfman’s.

    • Marie-Josee Pilon says:

      I have a tendency to think that Louise most likely remembered but was simply discreet and as usual kind.

  9. Dara says:

    I just love these Annotated Three Pines . Each and every one gives me such an insight to Ms. Penny herself and her thinking process….amazing!

    • Marie-Josee Pilon says:

      Dara what I really enjoy about these annotated sections is reading everyone’s comment. Louise has an uncanny way of making us all reflect and become a better person. How blessed we are to have her in our lives.

  10. Ann Lonstein says:

    On your recommendation we stayed at Manoir Hovey and visited the Abbey. It blew me away the moment w walked through the door. A Beautiful Mystery is one of my favorites.

  11. Fran says:

    I love reading these insights!

  12. JP says:

    This was the first book I read in the series, picked out from the library shelves on a whim. I loved it and have been reading the series ever since. What really struck me was the love between the Gamaches and how it is expressed. Also, what a decent fellow Armand is compared to the detective/cop/private eye/spy protagonists in so many novels. Not a lonely, addicted, cruel, lost, alcoholic, crooked crazy spoiling for a fight. I find it so refreshing.

    • Elke Love says:

      We all need to believe that policemen are as caring and trustworthy as Gamache. At least we have him as a role model now – thanks to Louise.

  13. Hazel MacKenzie says:

    An expression that I heard many years ago concerning inherited wealth is, “ Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.”

  14. Susan Brady says:

    I love your reflections, Louise. Inspired me to start the series again. Thank you and please consider coming to Minnesota!

  15. Dominique Proulx says:

    Just finished reading it on Sunday. I couldn’t put it down. Thanks for the explanation for the first stall! You made me laugh. Now on to the next book!

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