The Long Way Home, Chapters 11-20

The Long Way Home, Chapters 11-20

The Long Way Home is the #1 bestselling book in North America and it is all because of you! We can’t thank you enough!

Now on to chapters 11-20. Thoughts?
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Discussion on “The Long Way Home, Chapters 11-20”

I know – I am re-reading and just finished next week’s chapters and realized that most of what I might discuss this next week, will have some important resolution the following week – so many things we might assume early on are changed near the end of the book. This is kind of difficult to have a meaningful discussion about without spoilers…

Totally agree with you on that, Julie. For me, the ‘meaningfulness’ is achieved by looking at any piece of literature as a whole, not as separate clusters of chapters. Tho I’m sure it worked for the re-reads, I’m with Barbara. I’ll wait till last week also to comment further (at least I think that way today! 😉 Tho I find myself taking notes of things that touched me, things that intrigued me, things that tickled me and things that frustrated me. And I can’t say a word yet for fear of giving too much away for those who haven’t finished reading. I have loved the intimacy of this group so I’ll wait with pleasure.

We have a darling bird called a California Phoebe. It is colored much like a black and white penguin, always in a tuxedo. Raised feathers on its black head, very handsome. They love people and fly close and chirp hello when anyone comes outside. I have read that they are the friendliest of the wild birds.
We also have beautiful hooded orioles, bright, deep yellow and black.
I am loving rereading the third chunk of The Long Way Home.

I see there are others who enjoy the birds and squirrels. Doves are the most frequent birds to our yard, followed by Cardinals, sparrows and a newbie for us (for about a year) what I think are red-headed Finches. I had thought it might be related to sparrows until I read Linda’s post yesterday and looked up red-headed Finches. Our subdivision was wooded land owned by a nursery. Birds, squirrels and rabbits lived there but rabbits are very seldom around now. Some of my neighbors consider seeing a rabbit a good omen.

We have rabbits as well. In the early morning they eat the clover and jump (really jump like several feet high) around on the tee box on the golf course beyond our backyard. We consider them a good omen as well, after all there’s 4 (that’s four) rabbits feet still attached and jumping. They disappear once the first of the morning golfers appear. I must say, the luck doesn’t seem to affect how the golfers play.

Do you think when Peter painted the rabbits he was feeling lucky?

I LOVE my birds! We have cardinals, blue jays, house finches, purple finches, downy woodpeckers, red headed woodpeckers, titmouse, catbirds, mocking birds and nuthatches. We have mourning doves and sparrows too. The mourning doves make me laugh. They are so stupid sometimes!

You have a much larger variety of birds than I do. I did forget to mention redheaded woodpeckers. In the last few years, there have been fewer of them. I love the sound of the drilling. One year, one of them decided to drill on the metal air vent on the house next door. I worried that he would injure his beak or not get enough to eat as there were no grubs in the metal vent. A person with the local Audubon Society thought he would be OK.

Yeah, know what you mean about those morning doves! Had a pair that kept nesting in tall rhoddie bush in front of my sun porch. Never failed – when fledglings finally hopped out of nest, they frequently landed on window sills – which run the length of the enclosed porch! Goofy things would walk up & down that line – watching their reflections in the glass and would chatter back at themselves! Like hearing them in the mornings, but they aren’t the brightest! :~D

Oh, I wish we had your variety of birds in our yard… I get chickadees (my favorite), black-eyed juncos, sparrows, Steller’s Jays (like a blue jay but iridescent colors – really beautiful, but real bullies at the feeder) and crows! We do get a few house finches, still – we used to get more. They are really very pretty, but easily run off by the more aggressive birds. We often have a murder of crows (love that phrase) passing through the yard. Once a year – just one day, we get a troop of bushtits – usually about 40 of them, traveling together, teensy little birds full of swooping activity. They alight, eat, and they’re off again, they are obviously on the road! Why they only come once – and not on their way back, I don’t know. I used to have a feeder right by my window, but gradually, we filled the yard with plants that had food for the birds on them, so now, they just drop in and eat berries. No problem with the squirrels anymore. I have tried to attract hummingbirds with a feeder, but all I got was bees, even when I had bee guards on it, so I gave that up, hahaha.

Wonderful to hear about so many bird lovers. For ten years now we have had swallows in a nest on our porch. We applied for and obtained certification as a wildlife preserve for our birds. We see goldfinches, housefinches, quail, doves, juncos, swallows, purple finches, robins, house sparrows, blue birds, meadow larks, killdears, hummingbirds, hoot owls, Cooper’s hawks, sharp-shin hawks, and blackbirds.

In all the descriptions of Clara’s garden Louise has never mentioned birds. I wonder what kind there might be that inhabit Three Pines?


There’s a vine that grows wild in Asateague and Chincoteague along the shores of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It produces gorgeous cluster of long throated orange, yellow and occasionally red flowers that those little hummers just love! The neighbor of one of my friends who lives on the north side of our ‘burgh had two of them in his back yard – so they are domesticated. We’ve much colder winters than N.C. gets and those vines survived.

Must have been around 6:30 – 7-ish and we saw a number of humming birds just make pigs of themselves in those blossoms! Check them out. Maybe you can find vines in your area – that’d save you mixing up that sweet potion that comes with hummer feeders and attracts bees!

Meg, that sounds perfect! I’ll look for it – our climate is tricky, as it’s not often very cold, but also not often very hot, and so, so wet! It’s perfect for this transplant from Winnipeg, where, if you wake up on a sunny morning in January you cringe, because it means it will be at least 40 below!

Actually, it’s okay to not read the paper for a day. I’ve opened all my windows to let the warm sun in. One of my windows is filled with the sight of newly bloomed pink roses and another frames my bird feeders where olive goldfinches and red-headed house finches perch in the birds nest spruce and share their morning breakfast. It’s a beautiful peaceful day to remember the past, give thanks for the present, and whisper prayers for the future.

I think it’s a wonderful day to take for yourself to remember all the good in the world, instead of dwelling on what’s happened in the past. I don’t mean to ignore it, or forget the people lost, but take a day to reflect on the joy that we have in our lives. I don’t think there’s a better day to do this!

I’m relaxing as I remember Beauvoir on a horse in the forest.
“He was finding the soft, rhythmic steps of the careful animal reassuring, calming. It reminded him of the rocking of monks as they prayed. or a mother soothing a distressed child.
The forest was quiet, save for the clopping of the hooves and the birds as they got out of the way. The deeper they went, the more peaceful it became, the greener it became.”
What a beautiful picture that paints in my mind. Also, it reminds me of the safe, quiet monastery with a monk stooping to kiss a chicken on the head.

I may also be channeling Clara’s garden. I also have adirondac chairs with rings on the arms where shared summer drinks have left memories behind.

Linda, you so reminded me of bird feeders hung on bittersweet vines on my Mother’s kitchen porch. They provide continuous entertainment from first snow until mid-June/July when robins nest and hatch there. Pecking order just cracks me up! Number of cardinal pairs w/ Mr & Mrs. Black capped chickadees who are better than circus acrobats, An occasional starling or morning dove, Little brown wrens and an occasional blue jay. Best excitement comes when marauding squirrel tries to raid the feeders and cardinals just won’t share! Wonderful way to start morning with big mug of coffee when I visit there!

It’s 9/11 again. I’ve put off reading the paper this morning but I guess I must. I have been thinking about the attacks for the past few days. With the anniversary and the President’s speech last night, I wish I could flee to Three Pines and hold Rosa for a while.

With a bowl of cafe and some cheese at the Bistro. 🙂
I’d say wine, but Ruth would Bogart it… Maybe I’d get the wine just for that. 🙂

I’m with you Barbara. Where we live, there is a look out point to see the city. We went there that day. As devasting as it was, there was an instant unity among the other people there. We were not strangers, but family.

Yes, Differences seemed to be forgotten and we were all united as Americans. I’ll always remember that feeling.

In reading the many comments about the descriptions of Peter’s new paintings, I was ambivalent about both the paintings and the writing about the paintings. My initial impression was that Bean’s room was practically wallpapered with the paintings, but there are really only a few. They must have been visually overhwelming. I have a vivid imagination when I read (often having the impression that I have read an illustrated work when in fact it is all prose), but I just could not fix images in my mind of the emo-modernism of Peter’s new style. I think this is my failing though; clearly Louise sees them in her mind’s eye as if gazing in a gallery — which leads me to wonder (since some of Ruth’s poems are borrowed from Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen) if these works of art are based upon some that exist in the real world? Does anyone know? I also had a hard time visualizing the woodcarvings in The Brutal Telling, even though I went on to research and view quite a bit of Haida Gwaii artwork. The description of the statue of Peter’s father (with the secret bird) in A Rule Against Murder was lyrical. I wonder if she sketches out these images for herself first — does anyone know? One can certainly sense the great respect Louise has for artists. The Long Way Home concerns itself with Art with a capital A much more than any of the other novels.

Patricia, As we all know, I have trouble visualizing artwork. I was not familiar with the Haida and like you looked them up. I just love being able to read up on subjects I’m unfamiliar with. Isn’t the internet great. It took so many hours of work to get info at the library and sometimes books had to be borrowed from out-of-state libraries and that took weeks.
This emphasis on art has me longing for a trip to the High in Atlanta. I may have to settle for a day downtown at the Morris Museum of Art. It is Southern art only but has some lovely works. I sat so long in front of one painting that a guard asked me if I was OK. I sometimes write a short story, in my head, inspired by a painting.

I love that, Barbara – I can see you sitting there, lost in thought! I love to visit art galleries and museums, too. I was so well able to “see” the carvings in The Brutal Telling that I was sure I’d actually seen them on the internet, but when I went to look for them during the re-read, I realized that I must have made them up! In my mind, they were very detailed, like this:

How The Light Gets In

I have been curious about the line “How the Light Gets In” and how it has been used.

Of course Louise took it from the song Anthem by Leonard Cohen which appears to be from 1992-1993.
Here is one link to the lyrics if you haven’t seen them of not for a while.


Then this link for Leonard Cohen talking about the song from which I have taken the following quote:


“This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.”

There is a quote from Groucho Marx: “Blessed are the cracked for they shall let in the light” but I don’t have a date for this.

And a book by Jack Kornfield (American author and Buddhist) could be where Leonard Cohen heard the line.

“The line “a crack in everything” seems to come from a book by Jack Kornfield on Buddhism. The story is that a young man who had lost his leg came to a buddhist monastary thing, and he was extremely angry at life, and always drew these pictures of cracked vases and damaged thing, because he felt damaged. Over time, he found inner peace, and changed his outlook, but still drew broken vases. His master asked him one day: “Why do you still draw a crack in the vases you draw, are you not whole?” And he replied
“yes, and so are the vases. The crack is how the light gets in””

From a review on a book by Jack Kornfield, because I think it will resonate with people here:

Though Kornfield has trained as a Buddhist monk, his writing is accessible and timeless, not bound by dogma or religious ideology. Simple and clear, A Lamp in the Darkness is brief at less than 125 pages, but that doesn’t detract from its wisdom or power.

I read this book in just two days, and highlighted numerous passages that comforted me, providing gentle reassurance that even the most difficult feelings eventually fade. This is a book of hope, encouragement, and empowerment, rooted in the belief that we can handle any sorrows and even transform them into joys.

“Something holy happens when we’re strong enough to turn and face the tears we’ve held inside. It creates a space inside us that we can honorably fill with joy, once our tears have all been wept out completely.” ~Jack Kornfield

If you’re ready to face your tears, I highly recommend Jack Kornfield’s A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times.


For completeness sake, I also found:

The line appears as the title of another novel by MJ Hyland 2004:


It is also a book on writing ourselves whole, a book on writing as a spiritual exercise by Pat Schneider 2013

Anna, you’ve been busy. I’m not familiar with any of the people but am anxious to learn about them. Thanks for the sites.

Kornfield’s book on Buddhism is “not bound by dogma or religious ideology”.
Neither is Buddhism. It is commonly taught that the “Dharma” (teachings) are like fingers pointing to the moon; i.e., not the moon itself; and that to be a Buddhist, one must give up what you know, including the Dharma.

I have heard of Jean Vanier as a Catholic. A man of great compassion. Perhaps Louise modeled La Porte on L’Arche.

I love the idea of the asshole saint. The remembrance that good people come in all sizes and kinds, like Ruth. It is a reminder that we can be good people with all our rough edges and difficult bits.

On another topic that comes up in this section of the book, when Armand and Jean-Guy make their hilarious trek through the woods to see the “asshole saint”, we found out that where he went in Paris was to a place called La Porte, a community for people with Down’s Syndrome. I googled it and also Frere Albert but couldn’t find anything remotely connected, but the place sounds an awful lot like L’Arche, founded by Canadian Jean Vanier in the 1960s somewhere in France, but not Paris. He established other L’Arches in other parts of the world, one of them being “Daybreak” outside Toronto, where Henri Nouwen spent the end of his life caring for someone who was completely helpless. Have any of you heard of L’Arche before? Or Jean Vanier? He was the son of a former Governor-General of Canada (Queen’s Representative) named Georges Vanier.

I do not know of Jean Vanier, L’Arche or Henri Nouwen. I’m making a list of all of the subjects and names that are being mentioned. I will have much to read about this Fall and Winter while I have my morning coffee on the patio… it won’t be the same as being at the Bistro in Three Pines but I’ll raise a cup to the Villagers and all of you.

Th enormous benefit of this group over a real life discussion is that you can say as much or as little as you want and if it doesn’t interest someone, they can skip over to an area they find tickles their fancy a bit more. I don’t like to hog or post to much either but seriously, are we going to run out of room ! Post away people. I too love re reading. Keen to read everyone’s writing. Go for it Barabara with your paper. It seems we are all being inspired in many ways and that is fantastic.

I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way to post as long as it is respectful and not hurtful or rude. But I think if Armand had a fifth rule it would be “I forgive”.

Yes, I also love that 5th rule. I made a list of the others and posted it on my fridge as “Sentences to live by”; I think I should add “I forgive” to my list.

Also I’m delighted at the inspiration these discussions are bringing to us!

The posts in the discussion have added tremendously to my enjoyment of the books. Many people have added insights that I missed. So keep posting, everybody!

Barbara, I’m SO glad you came back! I was, truth be told, quite heartbroken when you said bye-bye folks. I had mentioned it’s hard for me to be a “joiner” and I felt I had finally found ‘a safe place’… A place where even I was accepted… And in my eyes you were (are) a shining star in this group! There’s so much more I want to comment on but for now with regards to your comment about not wanting to feel you broke your word by retuning soon, I’ll just leave you with a ‘quote’ that I adore: “Why have a mind if you can’t change it.” 😀

I like that, Millie. Long ago, after my divorce, I had decided, quite firmly that I would never marry again. After some time, I met my now husband, and said something along the lines of “I feel foolish having said I’d never do that again” to some of my friends. One of them responded – “It’s more important to be happy than to be consistent.” I’ve always loved that. This IS, I hope, a safe place for all of us to talk, and Millie, if I have ever made you feel otherwise, I apologize. I know I get on my rants and forget that the written word can come across as quite harsh, when you can’t see and hear all my cute-itude with it!

Remember Honore Gamache was a hero to Bert Finney because he had the courage to change his mind! Sometimes it can be a noble thing to do!

Thank you for the kind remarks. I hesitate to write because I said I would wait until closer to the end. I don’t want to feel that I broke my word.
In my first post for chapters 1 – 10, I listed some things I liked about the book as well as those I didn’t.
The only other time that I have participated in an on line discussion was the B&N University site. I read comments on many articles each day but do not join in. I do not use facebook or twitter. Maybe I do not understand the unwritten rules. It seems to me, that some topics have been mentioned repeatedly and I do not find that ” wrong”. Many times, I have wanted to share a thought but didn’t as I didn’t want to give the impression I was trying to ” take over”.
I was so impressed at the relationship we seemed to have formed that I went back and reviewed past book discussions. I had started writing a paper I was considering posting at the end of this discussion. Maybe my conclusions were entirely off base and I saw only that which I wished to see.

Oh, Barbara, don’t we all do that initially? – see what we wish to see? cling to what we know?

Know I do – until someone or something gives that old muscle between my ears a bit of a jolt – or an extra dose of caffeine (:~P) to get it working again!

Have to say that – for me- one of the main pleasures of participating in a book club (on-line or live) is that my horizons get stretched a bit by the insights of others. Louise my favorite Who-done-it writer? – – no way, Jose!
BUT – I’ve found I’ve become very, very attached to the characters that have been borne from her imagination/brain!

Yes, I can produce formal copy with standard language usage and lit crit terminologies too, but there’s a much more relaxed atmosphere with on-line discussions where it’s safe to say (as Armand’s told us & his recruits) = I was wrong, I’m sorry, I don’t know & Oops! I forgot the 4th one! Be easy with yourself. We’re all on this journey through Penny’s cosmos together! :~D

Interesting you mentioned “formal copy, etc.” I almost added that I had tried to write in a conversational form which does not come naturally to me. From many years of public speaking for various causes and organizations, I know how to speak to entertain and inform the public but when I write.. whether with pen and paper, a typewriter or computer I struggle to be informal.
I meant that maybe I had seen the group incorrectly.

I’m glad you didn’t stay away. Myself, I struggle to be less like Ruth. I have the scotch licked, and the profanity most of the time. However, sometimes the barbs just drop out of me into the public domain when I least expect it. Like a rude burp. I’ll keep working at it.

Please do let us see your paper at the end.

And “I need help.” I must say I have been stretched by the insights of all of you, and I have found the experience of this book club most enriching! I’m sure that’s why we are so loath to give it up and look forward to a chance to stay together. As well, I believe we have bonded as people and care about one another’s joys, efforts, struggles and sometimes pain – I hope your ribs heal soon, Millie!

Barbara – I am so glad you didn’t stay away. I agree – this group has figured out ways to disagree but remain friendly, and we ought to continue that. I know that I post way more than I ought to, and I try to restrain myself, but I just can’t help weighing in on every. single. subject. over. and. over. again! So far, nobody has pulled me aside and said – “you post too much”. We want to see all sides of the issue, and so discussion on every part (liked or not) is appropriate! I can’t wait to read your final impressions.

Since the beginning of the reread, I have never felt that anyone has posted too much. Also, I hope no one feels ignored or disapproved of when there is no response to a post. I often think, “Oh, that’s a great thought, insight, observation,” without responding. I read and reread comments whenever I have a minute and then think about them as I go on with my day. I appreciate all the time and effort everyone has put in.

What I was struck by on the link for the cosmos garden I posted that had bee titled (on the web site itself) How The Light Gets In was the fact that the garden is only about 5 miles from Lockerbie Scotland, the site of the terrible tragedy.

The description of seeing the explosion of the plane and discovering the destruction seemed to play into the discussion of Gamache and Ruth about the tearing down to build up in poetry and art.

You’d need to read through the information on that specific site to understand what I mean, elsewise I may sound rather blithering. (Which I may do anyway!)

You don’t. I was just reading that too. The description of the Lockerbie disaster was all the more poignant and disturbing because of the recent tragedies with Malaysian airlines MH17 and the MH370 before it. My husband was very involved in the search for the MH370. Love and loss have been very much in our hearts for some time. I think of so many people desperate to know where their friends and family are and then I read of Clara’s search for Peter. It added a whole other dimension.

My heart was saddened by the loss of both planes. How terrible not only for those who lost loved ones and friends but also for those involved in the searches. I remember many Australians were lost. Newscasts here were devoted largely to coverage of the tragedies for over a week with some comment for several weeks.

It helps me understand Clara’s drive to know! An absence is all the greater when there is not even knowledge to fill the hole.

Anna, ‘holes’ seem to be a running theme in this story – that’s a great observation about Clara. Everyone desires closure…

Millie, be passionate, don’t blame it on anything except finding your voice and feeling free to use it. It is wonderful. I am sorry to hear about your broken ribs. Regular pain relief, deep breathing and coughing to keep your lungs expanded and lots of laughter even though it hurts. That is what will stop secondary collapse and infection. Please be careful.

I have had a very busy few days and haven’t had time to read everything completely. I will chase links and things today I hope but this week isn’t looking easy.

This is our Three Pines. We need to keep it safe for everyone. But even in Three Pines there are disagreements and prickliness so that’s ok too as long as there is love and respect at the end of the day. We need everyone to make it a colourful and interesting place to visit.

You really are a dear, Anna. I’ll just add go to audio bookmark of the Constable telling his pal “Look again you big s….tum” to my list of things to do for my health. OMG! Listening to it on audio with the scots accent was the biggest laugh I’ve had in a long time.

Then I recommend you listen several times a day!

I have had a quick read of the website on the garden with the “And that’s how the light gets in” title. I think there are themes in life that flow through the world consciousness and pop up in all kinds of places. Of course Louise drew the phrase from Leonard Cohen as well may be the case with the web page. I shall see if it appears elsewhere when I get a moment.

I know there are themes in Louise’s books that I have been exploring in my stories long before I visited Three Pines. And once I start thinking about them they pop up all over the place. It’s because we become sensitized to certain topics. Like buying a new car and suddenly seeing the same car or car colour everywhere.

Millie, I loved Robert Stuart’s accent and Ruth type colorful language too. Thank you Ralph Cosham! And when he looked at his phone and thought, “The message was from that man in Canada. The French guy with the weird accent.” Reminded me of Jean Guy’s take on the English.

Yes, Elaine, she was, and this was something that really bothered me at the time the story of the ducklings was retold, naming her Flora. But then I hurried along and forgot about it. This happened with another author who changed someone’s name from one book to another. If the writers were all by themselves, struggling to meet deadlines, I could understand those glitches, but they have assistants and editors – surely someone should have picked up on that slip! I read in a post above that Louise had been embarrassed about having Gamache’s son’s name wrong in one of the books, but I missed that one! I know his name is Daniel, but I never noticed he was called something else. As an aside, I really would like to see him and Roslyn and their little girls developed more – actually I’d love to see them come home to Montreal.

Sylvia, I have several friends who are published authors. They say the publishing industry has changed significantly from how it was even 10 – 15 years ago. Staff reductions pretty much means it’s now on the shoulders of the author to produce ‘perfect’ manuscripts, plus keep a tour schedule, maintain a social media presence (some farm this out to others but Ms Penny stays in touch personally!) Frankly, I don’t know how they do it!

Patricia, Eileen and Mariette, I too was disappointed in the book. On page one of the discussion of chapters 1-10, I expressed my feelings. I do not consider the book up to Louise Penney’s very high standards.

I addressed my remarks to three specific people to let them know that I shared their feelings. You are absolutely correct though. It certainly is time to move on. I shall do just that. If I ever post here again, it will be near the end of the discussion of the last chapters.
I make no apology for being a reader and not a fan as discussed in TBM.
This has been a fun project and I will always remember these months and the interesting people involved.
Happy Reading To All.

I meant no offense, and value your opinion. Forgive me if I came across harshly. I didn’t intend to single you out, thought I had posted generally instead of to a reply.

It’s obvious this is a love it or leave it tome for many. That’s the way literature often is. Actually, quite a lot like the bad reviews of Clara’s paintings.

Those of you that really hated the book, is there really nothing you liked?

I personally loved the book and am unable to think of a response to the negative reactions. I think the book stands on it’s own as a wonderful, so I don’t feel moved to defend it. It would be a bit like defending roses to someone that got snagged on a thorn. I sympathize for the snag, I too have sometimes found the thorns, but I love this particular rose.

Barbara, we need all opinions here or else it will be a one sided discussion. There are definitely elements I struggle with too. We need brave dissenters. Everyone doesn’t have to agree, it isn’t nearly as much fun when we do. I hope you will keep chiming in alongside with the others who have things to say.

I am interested in Patricia’s response to the sentence construction and Cathryne’s suggestion that it sounds different on the audio book. Again I wonder if we all experience different aspects according to variations in our sensory processing. Maybe Patricia doesn’t hear the story in her head the same way other people do.

I like hearing Millie’s passion but I am less likely to write that way here because I am enjoying a more process driven response to the book as I didn’t respond emotionally the way I have to some of the other books. While that disappointed me, I am enjoying hearing what everyone says and examining why we respond differently. Hopefully that doesn’t come across as too cool and dispassionate but it’s ok if it does.

Oh, Anna, please don’t remind me of my ‘passion’… My response surprised even ME. I’m going to blame it on trying to ignore the pain of the cracked ribs. :-/ But I posted a reply to a comment, (I believe Linda’s – I’ll learn all your names eventually 🙂 that the webpage link to the garden is called How the Light Gets In. I have questions and would like to know if anyone saw the same? something different? Did anyone else click on the book link there???

And Meg… please don’t go.

Millie, I’m confused?!

Don’t think I indicated that I was going anywhere – just that Penny’s characters are doing so – moving into new territories for them – emotionally, experientially, etc. etc. etc.!!

I’m not really sure just where I think they & Louise are going in this book after Chapter 20, but I am hanging around to see just where our favs are at the end of this book. I wasn’t hooked by the ‘who-done-it” elements of these stories (as I found some to be unbelievable), nor by art descriptions or specific sensory details/descriptions of surroundings. What ‘hooked’ me as a reader are the character that our writer has created. Armand & Reine-Marie, Jean-Guy & Annie, Clara & Peter, Gabri & Ollie, Myrna (of whom we learn more in this book) – and especially cranky, cantankerous Ruth – who entertains me the most – even with her speaking duck! :~}

Nah, I’m not going anywhere. I want to see where these fictional people are going by the end of the book. I don’t know. Maybe it’s that soap opera gene I inherited from my mum. These Penny characters have become my replacements for the inhabitants of Springfield in “Guiding Light” – which Mum listened to before I started school, watched & I faithfully followed and recorded (when I had to go to work) – until it went off of the air. Was involved in the stories of the Bauer, Spaulding & Lewis families for decades. Guess Louise’s have become my ‘ replacement fix.’ Yeah, yeah, I can hear the groans now & see the rolling eyes! That’s okay. Simple pleasures! For those who are having problems with this book, Stick with it. Maybe together we can make some individual discoveries that will help the collective here – ‘get it.’ – whatever that is by the end of the book.

Meg R, I so agree about what I like about the books. The mystery aspect is irrelevant to me. I just love the characters, what is going on with them, and the descriptive writing.

The people of Three Pines would not have hurt you. I am one of them. You are my favorite and I have learned so much from your posts. Wish you were my neighbor.

Sorry, I meant Barbara, please stay… I’m not good at remembering names. But it was heart felt.

Elaine, so I wasn’t the only one who did a mental double take about Rosa’s sister’s name? But I just kept reading… Oh, well, saw an interview where Louise is SO embarrassed that Gamache’s son’s name changed from one book to another… Love how human Ms Penny is and so up front about the oopses. It’s like desperately looking for the ‘Delete Comment’ button but there isn’t one.

I am truly an avid fan of Louise Penny’s books! However, Barbara, I feel compelled to agree with you and several others about TLWH. It takes a certain amount of courage to admit this here, but wouldn’t Louise herself want us to share our truths with her? I believe she would understand that it is a matter of individual perceptions
and personal integrity.

For me, it’s too soon (I need to mull things over for a long time – I’m very slow, hahaha) to decide how much I liked this book – and a big part of it, for me, is the discussion here. It helped my thoughts about all the books to gel a little. My favorite will probably always be The Beautiful Mystery, just for the sheer beauty of it. There was good suspense, as well, with the Beauvoir plotline. But the MOST suspenseful was The Brutal Telling. The most exhilarating was How the Light Gets In. Each book has brought us something new – something different. This book, for me, I think is going to give us the most character development. To me, this book is a transition piece, yes, but also a real character study. We’ve known these people for a long time now – but they are changing. And we are seeing the changes happen. I think it’s fascinating. Even if you don’t like the art discussions, I think there is much to be learned from this book – and we may, in years to come, hearken back to this one as when we began to understand THIS, or THAT about someone. My two cents.

When I finished this book, I knew I loved it, but I knew only some of the reasons why. I knew for sure that I needed to think about it for some time and read it again right away. On the reread, I enjoyed and saw reasons for many parts that I rushed through impatiently the first time. The comments, insights, and discussions have made the biggest difference in the depth of my pleasure and appreciation of Louise Penny’s thoughtful writing. Thank heavens for all the two cents.


I found the scene in the bistro between Olivier and Clara so touching. To picture him outside in the snow watching through the window as Gabri and his friends looked so happy without him. And then Clara realizing that she also felt left behind as Peter found joy without her.

Have you ever wept at such a thought? As Louise said, not from sadness just a memory that flows like a river and suddenly overflows.

It’s some of the small moments like this that I really love about these books. I feel like I know how Olivier felt, and how Clara feels, too. That yearning, that may or may not be fulfilled… bittersweet, I think, describes it.

These are the beautiful moments that elevate Louise Penny’s books way above the murder mystery genre to “literature”!

This was not my favorite book from the series. Many pages were filled and refilled with descriptions of the ugly paintings. I like to see Gamache dealing with other types of intrigue. And I really missed the characters in Three Pines. Just saying!

I feel the same as you do. Too many descriptions of paintings. By far, the least of my favorites. Very disappointed.

I think I find this book ‘thin’. By that I mean the only thing going on is the hunt for Peter. The paintings are the clues, as are the places he’s been. Okay. But enough with the paintings over and over!
Remembering the previous books, look how many subplots there were along with the main ‘who dunnit’. In Trick of the Light, you have the Lillian Dyson back story as well as her murder, Jean Guy’s growing addiction, the Arnot case spillover, Peter’s dealing with Clara’s success, the Montreal art scene and more.
Here we have cameo appearances by Reine Marie, a few good scenes with Ruth but that’s really about it. I’d like more about Annie, more about Reine Marie adjusting to her retirement and living in the country. More Isabelle Lacoste and Agent Nicole.
Just more 🙂 I like a good thick stew.
This is a transitional book… or what to do now that Gamache is retired and the surete is cleaned up.

Connie, That’s It! I couldn’t work out what seemed to be missing…subplots. If they were there, I seemed to miss them. I guess the line of the two college profs and result was a subplot but not in the way they had been before. Yes, thin to me too. Louise Penny has set very high standards for her books and we have been spoiled. NO insult intended to anyone.

No insult taken. 🙂 It is an interesting point of discussion. We have been spoiled… But I saw the beginnings of a great subplot. Dang, now I don’t remember if it’s within the Chapter 20 cut off… Anyway, just to be sure, I’ll wait to comment.
But if I may gently offer something totally off topic… Some of you have mentioned (and I can’t remember specifically who, so don’t anyone take this personally – pain is a mental distractor!) that you you don’t belong to Facebook or anything like that. I do. I must cause my large family communicates that way. Ugh! Anyway, thru her FB page I found out that this year Ms Penny lost her beloved dog and found out that the love of her life, her hubby, was officially diagnosed with dementia. Yet she still gave us, her readers, a novel. I agree totally, it isn’t as juicy as others in the series, but I’m personally grateful for it. Perhaps even more so knowing what Ms Penny has been thru this year… This realization for me was huge, because I realized I not only care about the literature but about the author. First time ever, for me… Now I’ll go back to reading about Three Pines thru the eyes of others. And please keep commenting.

Oh, I am so sorry to hear that about Louise’s beloved Michael. This is a really hard blow for both of them. Yes, like you, I have come to care about the author. I think when you just read books and toss them aside when done, you don’t think much about the author, but here we have been commenting on many aspects of the writing, and just as her characters are so real to us, so she has become real to us as well. I hope their new dog will be a joy and comfort to both Louise and Michael.

This is one of my favorites of the books because of the growth and the evolution of the characters we have all come to love (and detest). There is so much discussion of the paintings because, with Peter absent, that is the only way they can learn about his personal evolution.

Exactly, Kathy!! And it takes time for Clara, Myrna, Armand, and Jean-Guy to develop some understanding of the changes taking place in Peter and how his art slowly reveals them. The paintings are totally different from anything Peter has done before. I loved it when Clara said she was falling in love with him and wanted to meet him, the new Peter. I think it gave her hope that the marriage could not only be saved but might be richer than ever.

I also heard Louise talk about the inspiration for Ruth and it reminded me that we all have Ruth’s in our lives — people who are “born inside out”. Ruth’s attraction to the Professor is very interesting. It makes one wonder what this is all about!!
The Peter I have come to detest over the last few books we see as finally beginning to become a human. It is as thought his “perfect” art does not really capture the imagination where as Clara’s is full of expression and life. the more we see the changes in Peter the more we are confused by his actions. Peter is truly the product of a totally dis-functional family. Clara is the one bright light of sanity.
Bean is more insightful than most people twice or three times her/his age.
It was an interesting note that JG liked Peter. We see JG maturing and acting like the investigator he was in the beginning of the series, before injuries and drugs affected him.

Karen, I wondered, too, at Ruth’s reactions to the professor. So different for her. There is more along these lines to discuss later on…

Jean Guy is maturing, as you said, and also more like he was – how Louise manages this is amazing. You can see his growth – for instance, he knows that the heart chakra is green – and he actually kind of enjoys his horse-ride to Vincent’s cabin – but he was always a good investigator, and that’s all back, now, too.

Wait a minute! Did I miss something major here? Where / when did Ruth encounter a professor? Only one we’ve seen in Chpts 10 to 20 has been Clara’s old college art prof that she visited with Myrna. Where did Ruth see a prof???????

Oops. I apologize. I hadn’t finished reading the book when we started, but I was further among than the first chapters we were to read. Now I’m finished, and have started a re-read, but have not caught up to where we are supposed to be, so when I saw someone post about it, I assumed it was in the section we were supposed to be discussing. I’m so sorry for the spoiler.

Before we started discussing this book, I thought it was decided that we would avoid the issue of possible spoilers and worrying about giving something away by having everyone read the whole book before they joined in the discussion. Then we went back to the groups of chapters to zero in on them for the week, but we were all supposed to have read the book. That was my understanding.

Before I “joined up” I clicked on the reading group guide and it’s empty. Sylvia, this site is going to drive me to drink! Where’s my tea mug. 😉

Oh, so that’s for the continuation of the group’s existence till next book and not guidelines for these discussions? Whew! Thanks for the clarification.

Ruth has only ever been nice to people that she doesn’t like or doesn’t trust. Remember Olivier? She called him “Olivier” after he returned to Three Pines until one day she finally called him “numb nuts”, signalling that she had begun to forgive. If she is consistent, she must really detest (or at least have a lot of doubt toward) the professor.

KB, thank you. I had forgotten about that. So subtle. So true to character! SO shouldn’t be here but what the heck, it’s out there now, right?… 😉

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