LOUISE PENNY’S

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Postcards from Three Pines: How the Light Gets In

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“Strange year. Michael has been diagnosed with Dementia and I just got word that HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN is a #1 on the NY Times list. There really is a crack in everything.”

AN EXCERPT FROM HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN

St. Thomas’s Church in Three Pines was quiet, just a slight rustle of paper as the guests read the order of service. Four monks walked in, heads bowed, and formed a semi-circle in front of the altar.

There was a pause, and then they began to sing. Their voices blending, joining. Swirling. Then becoming one. It was like listening to one of Clara’s paintings. With colors and swirls and the play of light and dark. All moving around a calm center.

A plainchant, in a plain church.

The only decoration in St. Thomas’s was a single stained- glass window,
of perpetually young soldiers. The window was positioned to catch the
morning light, the youngest light.

Jean-Guy Beauvoir bowed his head, weighed down by the solemnity of
the moment. Then, behind him, he heard a door open and everyone rose
to their feet.

The chant came to an end and there was a moment of quiet before another
voice was heard. Beauvoir didn’t need to look to know who it was.

Gabri stood at the front of the church, looking down the aisle, past the
wooden pews, and sang in his clear tenor,

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,

Around Beauvoir, the congregation joined in. He heard Clara’s voice. Olivier’s and Myrna’s. He even made out Ruth’s thin, reedy, unwavering voice. A doughboy voice. Unsure but unyielding.

But Jean-Guy had no voice. His lips moved, but no sound came out. He looked down the aisle, and waited.

There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

He saw Madame Gamache first, walking slowly. And beside her, Annie.

Radiant in her wedding dress. Walking down the aisle on her mother’s
Arm.

And Jean-Guy Beauvoir began to cry. With joy, with relief. With sorrow for all that had happened. For all the pain he’d caused. He stood in the morning light of the boys who never came home, and he wept.

He felt a nudge on his arm and saw a linen handkerchief being offered. Beauvoir took it, and looked into the deep brown eyes of his best man.

“You need it.” Jean-Guy gave it back.

“I have another.” Armand Gamache brought one from his breast pocket and wiped his eyes.

The two men stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the front of the packed chapel, weeping and watching as Annie and her mother walked down the aisle.

Annie Gamache was about to marry her first, and last, love.

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