The Long Way Home, Chapters 1-10

The Long Way Home, Chapters 1-10

What are your impressions of the first 10 chapters? Any surprises so far?

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Discussion on “The Long Way Home, Chapters 1-10”

I have just discovered L P and have found a new love in mysteries. Have read them all and absolutely love them all. Have to skip over the curse words but all in all keeps me on the edge of my seat. Can’t wait to see what else is in store.

I do not want to join in until I have finished the book. I received it late. But why has the name of the duckling that died been changed from Lilian to Flora??? Have I got a misprinted book?

Thanks, Fiona, I knew Flora was wrong but couldn’t remember the correct name of the duckling that died so young. Maybe Lilium, though?

Louise needs a continuity person… I hadn’t rembered it at the time, but now that I hear “Lilium”, I think that must be right…

Hi Julie, what got to me… and I know it shouldn’t have, but I’m human, were your assumptions. I’m sure I over reacted and for that I apologize.
Funny thing is, that was only the 2nd time in my life my mom supported my side. Actually, she has been my worse critic of my love of literature – reading and writing. She used to tell me when she would see me at my desk, “will you stop reading your life away and writing nonsense and get up and do something constructive!” Ouch!

I was moved by your statement that Peter could be mean but he wasn’t a ‘monster’. We were talking about heart and souls. I equate heart and soul with divine, unconditional love. I will agree with you that Peter may not be a monster, but he lacks unconditional love.

Well, I’ve beat Peter to a pulp enough. Onward to the next 10 chapters with a clean slate.

I am so sorry that I jumped to conclusions. It is one of those things about myself that I’m working on. It is so hard for me to hear about you being told to stop wasting your time on your writing ‘nonsense’! Ah, if only we could always be sure of getting what we need… I agree, let’s let Peter fend for himself for awhile. I’m looking forward to the next discussion. Cheers!

Oh, Julie… Your first sentence made me chuckle. But then I had to think about your subsequent comments. Interestingly, I started to reply on my device and lost it. Then realized one finger pecking was to slow. Soooo, I turned on my computer for the first time in a very long time. Progress! (and I’m not even hyperventilating. 😉

But, although this takes me way out of my comfort zone, may I respectfully suggest that you have made several assumptions on how I approach literature. I do not ‘think of these people as characters in a book’. Since I learned to read, and for too many reasons to elaborate here, books were my first friends and continue to be so. And as such, so do the characters contained in these books. Seldom do the characters I encounter ‘act as I expect them to’. If they did… I’d already be an author. I too do not like conflict, as others have indicated on several posts. I do not like conflict so much that I allowed my ‘Old World, European’ father to treat me like a child under his absolute control well into adulthood. What made it a bit easier was that I knew deep down he loved me — but there were conditions. Lots of them. Well into my 50’s I was visiting my folks, without my dear husband, all the way across country. No car. No where else to go really and my father started in on me. I just raised my hands in surrender and started to head out to the back patio. He roared at me, “Don’t you DARE leave this house. You MUST do as I say because you have no where else to go!” He was tall and strong then, I’m only 4′ 9″ and a wee thing. Yet I spun on my heals and had the gumption to tell this man I dearly love, “You’re wrong! I DO have a place to go! I can go home to MY home, MY husband.” He opened his mouth and shut it. Then looked to my mother, pointed to me and said, “Listen to her!” My mother stood tall and told my father, “She’s right, you know.” My dad put both hands on the table and raised his eyebrows as he looked back at me. I took a a lung full of air, raised my eyebrows and said softly, gently, “I’m going to the back yard now to look at the stars. I do not want to fight, but I request you treat me with the dignity a lady deserves.” And that was that. So Julie, I don’t have to imagine – I’ve lived my own version of it.

And then there was my mother in law… Not only my husband, but our two sons had the courage to scoop me up and defend me when she treated me, lets just say, rudely… What a piece of work that woman was. To the point our eldest son refused to invite her to his wedding, knowing he would probably be written out of her will. (He wasn’t, go figure!)

We all bring our own life experiences to our reading and that is why I, personally, think Peter is a spineless piece of s**t! (But a great read, Ms. Penny!!! He certainly has never acted as I would expect him to!) But I also try to work with the characterization facts the author has presented. As for Clara — I do not consider her a ‘dolt’ in the least! The human heart has the capacity to be endlessly patient and to forgive much. However, I present a quote from the last few pages of “Still Live”.

Clara watched as Peter got up and stirred the perfectly fine fire. She’d held him that night as he sprawled on the dirt floor. That had been the last time she’d gotten that close. Since the events of that horrible night he’ed retreated completely on to his island. The bridge had been destroyed. The walls had been constructed. And now Peter was unapproachable, even by her. Physically, yes, she could hold his hand, hold his head, hold his body, and she did. But she knew she could no longer hold his heart.”

Not a dolt. Not a dolt at all!

Oh, Millie – I’m so sorry if I made you feel that I wasn’t taking your impressions seriously. I know I’m in the minority, as I feel sorry for Peter. It sounds very much like you and I both know how the Morrow family operated. Luckily, you did have your mother to take your side – at least in the instance you mention. But Bert didn’t take the children’s side, except quietly, perhaps, in private. He didn’t let them know he was on their side. Their father was just as demanding and imperious as their mother. And I truly don’t believe that Peter could possibly have said that he was staying behind with Clara on that boat ride. I just don’t.

I had a moment, somewhat like yours, with my parents. But my father joined in when my mother started in on me. She snarled at me like a dog, and my father said “Listen to your mother – you owe us respect”. When I asked if I was not owed respect, they laughed at me. My two brothers sat there and watched, silently. I went upstairs and packed and left and never came back. I loved my parents and I tried hard to be a good “child”, but it was never enough. The age at which I was not owed any respect as a person was 56! I tried. I tried and tried. And then I got tired. So when I say that Peter’s choice to sit in the boat instead of making a scene, the day after his sister’s murder seemed perfectly correct to me, I think I got that right. You pick your times, if you ever get up the nerve, because it will be the last time. There’s no taking it back. That wasn’t the time.

I remember very well the scene you mention from Still Life – it was after Peter’d lost the only friend he’d ever had – not just lost him, like he’d died and he’d never be around anymore – lost him in that he now understood that he’d never been his friend in the first place. How much that hurt him, I can only imagine, but I bet I’d feel like that description. As I said – I do think that Peter loved Clara – and maybe that’s when things broke and he wasn’t able to any longer – but he is to be pitied, not reviled. At least in my mind.

Anyway – I know that most think that Peter is just worthless. I just happen to disagree, and I think that the Morrow family is a big reason for it. I’m not saying that everyone from families like that end up like Peter – I actually think I managed to turn out quite well. I love and am loved, have good friends and am happy in my life. But I understand how Peter has felt, and understand how damaging that could be.

Julie, it sounds like you are at peace with your decision and I think that is the key. I agree about the timing with Peter, Clara and the boat. We need to to pick our battles. I am so glad that you were able to do that and then get on with your life without regret.
I, too, am willing to give Peter a chance. I keep remembering him in Still Life, a piece of chocolate cupcake on his cheek, saying that Jane’s art was “great”, made him feel “joy”, and must be shown. That scene has always confused and fascinated me. I think now that it holds out hope for Peter. He was the first one to feel the genius of Jane’s art and her art was the first to touch his heart.

Love this part on page 4: “His life had never had a rhythm. … He seemed to thrive on the repetition. The stronger he got, the more he valued the structure. Far from being limiting, imprisoning, he found his daily rituals liberating.
Turmoil shook loose all sorts of unpleasant truths. But it took peace to examine them. Sitting in this quiet place in the bright sunshine, Armand Gamache was finally free to examine all the things that had fallen to the ground.

Has Peter done things out of the goodness of his heart or simply to fill his needs? Does he cook & clean up because it is a kindness to Clara or because he doesn’t like messes? Did he really support Clara when her friend Jane died in Still Life? Not hardly. He tells her “Maybe it’s not about you!” He is so absorbed in his friendship with Ben h
e doesn’t realize Clara has gone to the woods then is jealous she didn’t ask him to go? He wouldn’t bother to answer the door when someone knocked. Interrupts Clara when she’s in her studio… Has he really always made his guests comfortable with his cutting & dismissive comments to Clara in front of them.
He didn’t save Clara… Gamache realized Clara had been missing too long. Peter only reacted when Gamache asked if Clara was back. His ‘property’ was missing! And after the men all fall down the stairs and Peter realizes his childhood friend was a liar with a sin sick soul Peter decides never to trust again. Clara knew she had lost him then.
The way he treats Clara and Gamache in A Rule Against Murder disgusted me. My husband would have gotten off the boat and offered Bert the seat & stayed with me. He showed spineless, vindictive, hurtful behavior to those who really cared about him to please dear mama. Even Gamache tells Peter to be careful because he was making hurting people a habit… No wonder Clara’s prayer is “I hope you grow into a brave man…”
Then we come to A Trick of the Light…
Yes, there is something inside that shell but I don’t really see a heart or a soul that are alive, healthy and whole
As for what Clara saw in Peter in college, she says what. Peter stood beside her in the salon de refuse. How perfect for him! A non competitor! She probably thought he would stand beside her her whole life. Myrna says “he supported you when you were failing”. He stood only for himself.

Seems I need more practice in writing calm erudite observations. This book seems to have released a passion in me I thought was long gone. Deep breaths, Millie…

Thank you Linda so very much. I adore Miss Penny’s books for how they expose little cracks in me and then light is poured into them. But it’s one thing to ponder and a whole other to express thoughts to others… It’s a little scary jumping head first into an established group. But if it’s passion you want I have lots. :-/ Just don’t take anything I may say personally… My rantings are just how these books made ME feel. Interesting that’s the theme of this book in particular…

Phew! Love the passion. I agree with everything you said, except I don’t, hahaha. I see why you think that, but I find that the characters of most books, act as we expect them to. Louise’s characters act much more realistically. Don’t think of these people as characters in a book. Now, put yourself in Peter’s place. Really think about all the horrible times you’ve spent at the hands of your “family”. Think about how much you were hating the idea of coming to this reunion. Think about how mad you are that you can’t leave now because of the murder. Now – your mother orders you into the boat and demands that “only Morrows” go – Bert and “Claire” need not apply. Are you really expecting that man to stand up to her at this time? Never before in history, but this time? Not gonna happen. I was a member of that family – I know that if and when he ever does stand up to her, it will be a permanent rift that will mean he never has to go back, but also that he never gets to go back. That’s hard. That’s so hard. In real life, people don’t always act the way you wish they would. And they certainly don’t act like characters in a book, with logic and purpose. Life is messy and harsh sometimes. That little boy who needed a little encouragement, who needed a little love is still trapped inside Peter.

Has he been good to Clara? Not always. But I also don’t believe that every single nice thing he did for her, or for the people in Three Pines was out of filling his own needs. He wants to connect with people – he doesn’t really know how. There’s an odious phrase from my generation, that nevertheless has some merit – “Fake it ’til you make it”. If you can’t feel these things fully, act as if you do, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll finally get so you really feel them. That’s where I think Peter has been all these years. He knows what friendship looks like, but not what it feels like. But he keeps trying, by making sure he does the things he ought to. He wants, so desperately, to be like everyone else. And I think he loves Clara. I think he has a soul and that he loves her. He just has never, once, in his life, been shown how to do that. Clara has shown him, but by then, he’s so hurt.

I also don’t think Clara is such a dolt that she has misinterpreted every action Peter has taken from the first at school. Even if she didn’t get it intellectually, she has great depth of feeling and she’d be able to feel the difference. She truly loves (loved?) Peter and felt his love in return. Just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

Well said! Let’s take a look at Trick of the Light… Peter (repeat) Peter was the one who sic’d (sp?) Lillian Dyson, the critic from h**l on Clara. In a show before the Salon de Refuses evidently. As Clara sends him packing he has one last feeble whine.
It’s true that Clara needed freeing from Lillian… but.
It’s the attemts to destroy not only another artist, but your wife’s, creative soul that is the problem.

Yes, absolutely. I’m not defending Peter as being right. I’m saying he’s understandable, and that he has a soul. There’s a lot of room between the kinds of jealousy and even meanness that Peter displays and not having a soul. He’s not right. But he’s not a monster. As I said, I think coming from a family like Peter’s gives me a bit of insight into how he got that way, and that he CAN come back from there. And I think he’s trying. I really do.

And Linda you touch on a theme I have very strongly in my mind. How do measure goodness? Do actions count more or intent?

When my daughter was very small she loved to watch Smallville, based on Superman. For both of us, the best character was Lex Luthor as he struggled so much with good actions and selfish intents. It amazed me that a small child would see the difficulties of that and she cheered always for Lex to do the “good” thing. I have seen this in cartoons too.

I want to cheer for Peter, because he has had a difficult life and he does do good things. But I have struggled to see him show a genuine heart, an intent to be more than just the imitation of the man he appears to be. He needs to fill that hollow inside with something or it will implode and take him with it.

Thanks Julie, for the link. 🙂
I just couldn’t let go of wondering why their was no ‘crack’ in Peter for the light to get in… Sadly, found my answer in Chapter 6. When Clara is discussing with Gamache, Jean-Guy & Myrna her big fight with Peter she says he “realized in the night that he had been pretending all his life and that deep down there was nothing. Just a hole, which was why his paintings had no substance…” “And they considered a man who had a hole where his core should have been.” Then a bit later Gamache thinks, “if Peter Morrow had a hole where his soul should be, his family had put it there.”
Lordy! He has nothing to crack!!!!
My first thought was poor man! But then I thought of people who have have been treated worse, had a really rough life and had hearts filled with love…
Then Clara’s prayer for Peter took on a deeper meaning. Peter is still that 7 year old boy sent to boarding school – if that!
Then Gamache’s parting words to Peter’s mother took on a richer meaning. “At least I know my parents loved me…” So I’m back to poor Peter. You can’t give what you’ve never known. And a personality is set by age 7, 8, 9???
But, but… Clara didn’t have an easy childhood either! Yet her heart is full of love & faith!!! Reminds me of when I first met my brother’s soon to be daughter in law. She gave me a big hug and told me she now understood how my nephew was so wonderful, “you are like the picture to his dad’s negative…” Maybe all the talk about art brought that memory back into focus. “Life is choice”! I kinda missed Agent Nichol in this book…
Anyway, what does that say about Bean… Gonna be an interesting discovery to see that child grow up. Glad he / she’s back.

I’ve always been in a quandary where Peter is concerned. He did act the worst kind of arse. But there were all those other things, i.e., he always helped cook and clean, he always welcomed friends and made them comfortable, he did save Clara’s life. For the most part his acquaintances thought of him as a good man, until Clara’s success. Perfect, no. How many of us really is perfect?

I don’t think he was missing a soul. I think he had a shell around his soul and like Ruth’s baby duck, he had great difficulty cracking his way out.

There had to be some substance to Peter, quite beyond his good looks that caused Clara to love him. We’ve discussed Peter regularly haven’t we? He has been, perhaps, one of the larger continuing puzzles in each book.

What great insights, Linda. Thank you. Beautiful comparison to Peter having a shell around him, like Ruth’s duck. Sorry if I have brought Peter up so much in this discussion but as a newcomer I don’t really know what’s been discussed previously… I’ll try to read the comments on the previous books but it seems a bit overwhelming while trying to keep up with just this fascinating book. As I said, life threw me curve balls these last three years & I couldn’t participate in earlier discussions – family deaths, traveling cross country for funerals, my dear daddy diagnosed with dementia and other sadnesses of life. Finding this group feels like a lifeline back to what always brought me joy and self enlightenment after times of much sadness – the love of great literature.

Millie – I’m so sorry that you’ve had such a tough time lately. There is no time limit on when we get our reading done, no test at the end, and nothing but acceptance here and by the lovely people of Three Pines! I don’t think anyone minds talking about Peter more – he’s always been someone we’ve discussed with varying amounts of dismay and hope. He has been horrible to Clara – but his family was horrible to him. It seems either you sympathize with or hate the poor guy – there’s not much in between with us, hahaha. I think we’ll all get more insight into Peter as the book goes on, as well as into Clara. I began my reread of this book last night, and in Chapter 5 found a really relevant bit of information. I won’t cite it here, because I think it would give away too much later on to know its significance.

Question: does anyone know if that talk about how Miss Penny started writing, which Julie mentions, is on YouTube? Or on some other site??? Or even transcripts???

The Poisoned Pen has had many interviews with LP over the years, and they are up in the archives on their site. Each interview is long, and my computer’s speakers are so bad that I can hardly hear them, so I haven’t bothered with them – but I would bet that if you listened to them, those nuggets are in there. I think this has been a part of her “regular” speech for some time…

here’s a link to the archives: http://new.livestream.com/poisonedpen/

Just off the top of my head Millie, I think writers start by putting one word in front of another, same as any other journey, then see where the literary road takes you.

Sorry, been trying to comment on so many things today but haven’t had a moment to compose a thought.

Millie, it doesn’t surprise me that you see connections, it’s the sign of a creative mind and I suspect there are a fair few of those floating around this discussion board based on the comments. I am also so glad to see you have found your voice. It is joyous to behold.

Peter was hollowed out by the negativity of his childhood. Why he found no self belief to counter it, as others must do when they overcome similar experiences, I don’t know. Negative comments and action appear to have so much more power, seem to stick longer and burrow deeper than positive ones. So overcoming, let alone flourishing in the face of adversity is no mean feat. But, I too see examples all the time of where it has been done.

Peter also struggles to appreciate what he has. But don’t we all. The allure of what we want is so much stronger than the glow of what we have. Taking a journey away allows us to see what we have left behind as wants not givens.

Perhaps those who overcome negativity are able to take it apart and rebuild it in the shape of something better. Peter studied the line and form of the art in his parents home, but he never got to its heart. He didn’t take apart the structure and then use it make something even better. He tried to imitate art and ended up imitating life.


I wondered, when I read about The Refuses exhibit whether all parties were mistaken about the instructors intentions. The historical Refuses had contained works by artists that were destined for greatness.

Perhaps the art instructor didn’t intend to embarrass those others perceived as failures. Maybe he intended to infer that being accepted or rejected at such an early stage of their efforts was no clear indication of future success.

I always thought that, Linda. As in the original exhibition, someone saw merit in at least some of the art, and wanted it recognized. I always wondered why everyone accepted that he had only done it to humiliate. The only thing I can think is that Prof. Norman did it without anyone’s knowledge or permission. You go along thinking “It’s too bad I didn’t get into the show, and then, you see your work being exhibited under the title “Refuses”. Not to forget that “Refuses” is a French word and the school was in Toronto. Toronto is predominantly English-speaking now – it would have been ever moreso when Clara was a student, which would have been before a lot of the “new” French language laws came into effect. Refuse is another word for garbage, but in French, that sting is taken away – it’s just that people, even when they knew that intellectually, didn’t feel that way – they “heard” garbage! This is the only scenario I can come up with for having everyone assume this was an insult.

The “REFUSES” – ANOTHER SIDEBAR! I recently finished reading a book called “I Always Loved You” – about Mary Cassatt & Degas. Basically most of the artists that we consider Impressionisti Masters today – were ‘refused’ by The Academy in their time. Those painters chose to establish their own private exhibitions of paintings. So – being excluded from the “officially endorsed’ institutional art authorities – was not an indication of exceptional talent or ability! Just another strange Meg connection here between two novels! Those rejected included Degas, Monet, Gaugin, Manet, Pissaro, Cassatt and Louisa May Alcott’s sister too! Go figure! :~P

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how many masters (in all the arts) were dismissed in their lifetime. Apprenticing growing as they withstood the test of time.

Also an indication that those who judge are not infallible! However, Professor Norman’s setting up the Salon des Refuses was seen by others, including Professor Massey, as an attempt to embarrass and hence was a reason for his dismissal.

It reminds me of Clara taking the newspapers to a quiet place to read the reviews of her exhibition. Remember how Myrna advised her to remember the good reviews and not just the bad ones? As she prepared to read those reviews, did she in her mind recall her art front and center of the Refuses?

Judges (and critics) are human, with differing tastes and preferences. As well, some are more experienced at seeing genius in new concepts or techniques. Maybe we need to remember that ourselves when our talents or efforts are critiqued. We shouldn’t hug the first bad review to our heart and give up.

I have my doubts that Professor Massey really believed that the Salon des Refuses was an attempt to humiliate the students. It was the easy answer. Or is that a spoiler?


Side note first: Learned from one of my old supervisors that most of us write either like Mozart (very very few) or Beethoven (most writers). The first master could imagine and hear entire symphonic compositions in his head and simply recorded them in musical notation format. Mozartian (if there is such a word!) writers are able to compose entire speeches/articles/poems/chapters etc. etc. etc. and produce a print ready copy. Most of us plod along like the second composer: download initial thoughts/images/ fragments/connections that we associate with a given topic/theme etc – just to start with a prewrite list to just figure out what we really want to say. Then, from that we do a first draft, put it aside for a little bit, come back to it, see if it says what we really wanted to say – and if we did that in a most effective manner.

Was a initially a big battle at the beginning of a school year with my kids to get them to believe that first drafts are mostly – not a good finished product! Used a poem I had written & kept every draft from that pre-write list to finished piece. Didn’t identify it as mine, but as work of a writer I knew. Asked kids to respond to what worked and didn’t work in early, middle and final drafts. They were surprised to discover that they were able to identify what the writer needed to do and did! Poetry’s difficult for me. You’ve probably noticed that I do have a tendency to babble on and on, and the requirements of effective conciseness, imagery, effective word choice demand much more! It took me 17 drafts to get that poem to a point that satisfied me. I’m definitely a Beethovian plodder when it comes to formal writing.

PROCESS in RE to THIS BOOK: I think any skill we undertake, being it writing, painting, drawing, knitting, crochet work, gardening, cooking, baking, carpentry, dry-wall hanging, etc. etc. etc. – requires a learning curve, a process of mastering basic steps, moving to intermediate levels and beyond. Many of us are happy with middle level achievements. Others are frustrated by unfamiliarity of basic practices – while some of us feel compelled to strive for constant improvement and highest achievements.

Ruth’s learned to get past that “lump in the throat” to produce her poems, Clara beyond the shock values of the Refuses and her warrior uteri, Nichol beyond her defensive antagonism to acceptance. Peter just amazes me in this book because he foresakes all that had been safe territory for him thus far – following the rules, producing technically ‘perfect’ but soul-less paintings, his marriage and position as the primary bread-winning spouse. The guy’s dumped all of the ‘basic skill set’ that he was taught – and learned well – to dive into absolutely unknown territory for him – to try painting emotionally, evocatively. Yeah, as Louise describes them, his first efforts – on paper and second ones on canvas — are a total mess! BUT – he does manage to evoke an emotional response in his viewers with the recent one with red smiles. He’s no where near Clara’s level of technical achievement or as sensitive observer and empathizer with others – but – he’s taken those first frightening steps to try something different, to learn something in a new way – much like our Missy Anna is doing with her recent new endeavors! Takes real courage to dive off of that cliff to something new, unknown, unpredictable – especially when you don’t know what the final outcome will be. It’s working through the process – which can be tedious, sometimes disheartening – and also a joyous discovery – that will prove whether the effort was ‘worth it or not’.

So, all of that ‘art stuff’ talk didn’t bother me here as I recognize it as a ‘working through’ – which usually goes slowly for Peter, for Gamache as he tries to solve crimes/ puzzles, for Jean-Guy as he begins to look at himself and others in a different way than he had before, for Reine-Marie as she tries to figure out what to do or not do with her recently retired hubbie, for Clara whose own career and marriage have drastically veered from their past states. Does this make any sense? Yeah, yeah, it’s that Meg – babblin’ on again here! Enjoy your weekends!

Well put, Meg! I think that Louise has, in fact, been able to let us in to see the processes and through seeing the process in the art, we begin to see the process as change comes to all our characters. Many have called this a “transitional” book – and I see very much that everyone is in flux here – except maybe Myrna. Even Ruth seems different – softer – Rosa has been doing some very good work with her, I suspect! Either that, or I’m getting better at translating Ruthisms.

You made me chuckle, Julie! On first rapid read – I thought you indicated that you were getting better at translating Rosaisms! Finally, a good night’s sleep certainly would helps to keep this mind clearer! Duh! I couldn’t remember any “Rosa speak” – except her echoing Ruth’s favorite 4 letter word! :~D

Julie, some quick thoughts regarding Ruth: she admitted in one of the previous books it was better for her not to love because when she did, people got hurt or died… Yet she dares to care for Jean-Guy and Rosa. First, Rosa comes back and then Jean-Guy ‘comes back’ from the depth of his addictions… Her self view has been turned upside down! “Well, what do ya know, maybe I can care and SHOW it!” Plus, Clara’s prayer in Ch 5, keeps coming to mind… “I pray you will find a way to be useful.” A study from UC Berkley says 40% of our happiness comes from contributing to something greater than ourselves. Ruth has become ‘useful’ in her own eyes – she must care for Rosa! 🙂

In odd ways Ruth has always shown her love. The fact her ways are laced with profanity and obscene gestures makes them a little more obscure to the eye of the beholder.

But even Myrna is changing. She fled her old profession (psychotherapy) because she had become disillusioned with the process and with the sincerity of her patients. Now here in Three Pines, she has resumed that role as Gamache’s therapist. (And of course, throughout all the books she has been offering her own special insights where needed or asked for, but in a mostly unofficial capacity.)

Wow, Meg! I had never heard of the Mozart vs Beethoven- like writers. Fascinating stuff. All you’ve shared. So glad I’m not the only babbler… It’s been hard for me to to not babble on, try to keep my comments strictly on topic. But that’s not my nature. I see everything connected to everything else.

BOOK COVER DISCOVERY!: Thanks to JAN, I went googling for CLARENCE GAGNON and found this site


Athenaeum provides many stamp-sized snaps of a number of Gagnon’s painting. Wish there was a way to enlarge them so I could see them better! But! – A DISCOVERY!!!!

If you scan down the list/samples of his work, you’ll eventually come to one from 1924 titled “Evening on the North Shore”. Look at it carefully. It IS the illustration on this book’s paper jacket cover – but upside down! Exact outline of coastal village and land that juts into water body reproduced there, but village colors replaced with black/dark gray — except for one chimney or silo tower. Art department then inverted that image for the back – i.e. printed it right side up.

It’s really difficult to tell if Gagnon’s works sing to this viewer or not – as they were too tiny to see, but he does have a plethora of subject matter – mostly landscapes with a few portraits thrown in. Think I’d like to investigate him more.

Meg, if you click on the pictures, then click on them again – they enlarge quite a bit – at least, the first one did. Someone had read the acknowledgements and told us the name of the painting – and you have the right one. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Here is my favorite Tom Thompson painting – it’s quite famous and captures the “wild” in “Canadian wilderness”! http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/canadian/images/TomThomson-The-Jack-Pine-1916-17.jpg If that link is broken, try this one: http://tinyurl.com/q9f8b23

Thanks, Meg! I am not sure I could have picked out the original painting even though I think I do have a pretty good visual imagination.

It was the comment about the cover that got me to post. I picked up the book at B&N and was so conscious of the texture I felt. It surprised, delighted and egged me on to open the book PDQuick. Grateful to a friend who had finished it in a couple of days, I was able to discuss and so after telling her that I was rationing it and using it as a reward for accomplishing some stuff, I hit “Cosmic” and knew the rationing was out of the question. I hate finishing it because of the wait but the time had come.

in an earlier book the art stuff was a bit of a distraction but not this time. I was so familiar with the characters, they feel like old friends, friends that a re read is like being on vacation with friends.

Actually, as i think about it, I was so anxious reading the last book, afraid it would be the last, that this one I read with great joy and peace, my friends are still present.

I know, I am bad but I just finished the book! Just could not stop. Can’t wait for the discussions on the final chapters to begin.

I am happy that a mystery is about to appear – it had to be Peter, didn’t it? And Jean Guy appeared as well on page 18 and made me laugh right out loud. Yet, again. And because I can’t stop reading when told, I can tell you he does it again in Chapter 13, pg 108!
When I lived in Montreal, there was a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Chinatown that we always visited. It was upstairs. Louise Penny is still making me nostalgic -if not quite homesick.
But I am still contemplating the Ville Marie Tunnel – not there when I left.
Oh, and I want to watch Bean grow up!
Every book has had some topic to study – Champlain, Emily Carr, Gregorian-like chants, etc. This one will be art, painting in particular, n’est-ce pas? I am enjoying it tremendously. I spent many happy hours in the Museum of Art in Montreal.

The introduction of new topics to study and learn about is one of the things I love about these books. Just think…we are learning about many different topics in a most delightful way. I become so excited about what I learn from researching that I want to share my new knowledge with others. I hope they enjoy my sharing with them. Last week I was asked what was the latest on Canada. Maybe I need to curb my enthusiasm.

What’s wonderful is that even we Canadians are learning so much about different areas of our own history and landscape! Gagnon is someone I’d never heard of, and there’s no good reason for that, as you can see by looking at his works. All the in-depth information about Champlain was absolutely news to me, and I studied Canadian history the same as most Canadian students – just barely skimmed the tops of it and put no more emphasis on Canadian topics than on ancient Greece, or British history, or American history. Shame – there’s a lot to be proud of in Canada. And so much of the land is still empty or almost empty – the wild places are still there.

The comment by Jean-Guy that had me roaring was on Chapter 8, page 61 where he says, “Some din”. Such a subtle play on words by LP! They’re in a Chinese restaurant eating ‘Dim sum’. It takes so little for my jaw to drop in admiration & LP offers SO much to admire.

Trying to keep up with the comments… So many thoughtful ones. Ruth carving the words? Love that. Love being here. Crazy day for me too. But I wrote 94 words, Anna! Gotta go.

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