How the Light Gets In, Part 2

How the Light Gets In, Part 2

Recap (Chapter 23 – End)

Here’s my recap for you. Or maybe it should be my first question. Are you as emotionally drained after finishing How the Light Gets In as I am? Now, to the actual recap of the book in which Louise Penny unites us with Gamache and the villagers as we wait and prepare, building the tension until it’s so unbearable it has to conclude, as she says, with an explosive ending. Do not read this recap or conclusion if you have not finished the book. This recap is a spoiler.

Thérèse Brunel continues to tell her husband, Jérôme, the terrible story of the treachery at the top of the Sûreté du Québec, and Gamache’s actions that led both to the people’s admiration and to continuing enmity from some of the leadership. And then Gamache adds an unknown quantity to the mixture in Three Pines. He brings in Agent Yvette Nichol, who no one, not even Gamache, knows if he can trust.

It’s the beginning of a long stretch of tension in the book. No one knows if they can trust Nichol, but they need her to set up computer equipment so they can reach out from the isolated village and uncover hidden computer files from the Sûreté.

The only break from the tension comes when Gamache turns back to the investigation of the Ouellet murder, handing Constance’s Christmas presents out to the villagers. It’s Myrna’s gift of a tuque, a hat, that begins to prey on his mind, leading him to search for a missing member of the family, someone who could be a killer. It’s that search for answers that leads him back to Montréal, first to drop off the tuque so he can check on DNA, and then to his department at the Sûreté, where he dismisses the entire staff, effectively shutting it down, and tells Inspector Lacoste he will announcing his resignation in the next day or two.

But his trip back to the Sûreté a second time is shocking, when Jean-Guy Beauvoir turns on him and threatens him with a gun, blaming Gamache for everything, even in the face of the man who says he loves him. Nevertheless, Gamache finishes his errands, meeting with those who may have clues to the story of the Ouellet Quintuplets, before returning to Three Pines.

When they set in motion the plan to dig into those computer files, Gamache and his team are horrified to discover that the plot they’re investigating leads all the way to the Premier of Québec. As they begin to unravel the power grab related to money, death, and a scheme to kill thousands in order to create a new country, the computer hackers in Three Pines attract the attention of the police in the Sûreté. But it’s too late. Gamache’s small group have linked the stories of corruption to top leadership and even the murder of Audrey Villeneuve, who knew more than she should. It’s a story of allowing construction projects to go unfulfilled so they can destroy a dam, a tunnel or a bridge. And it will take one more trip to Montréal for Gamache to wrap up the loose ends. Warning the Brunels and Agent Nichol to stay hidden, he leaves Three Pines hoping to lead Francoeur to follow him. After he’s gone, Myrna and the villagers show up to lead the Brunels and Nichol to safety.


All the storylines quickly begin to converge. While Gamache wraps up the investigation involving Audrey Villeneuve, he learns why she was murdered. She was about to tell the wrong person, the Premier, Georges Renard, about the structural weakness of the Champlain Bridge. Gamache warns Lacoste to close that bridge before it’s blown up. In the meantime, Myrna wraps up the story of Constance Ouellet and her siblings, telling the story of Gamache’s discovery that there was one more child, a younger son, who grew to hate his sisters, and killed some of them. And, Francouer, Tessier, and a small team head to Three Pines, led by Jean-Guy Beauvoir.

While the villagers put off the police, hiding the Brunels and Nichol, Gamache is on a mad dash back to Three Pines. But Francouer and Tessier are waiting for him. While they think they have him trapped, he jeers at them, informing them his announcement of his resignation was a signal to his former officers, still loyal to him, to take over the Sûreté du Québec. He and Francouer fight to the death, and Gamache dashes toward the schoolhouse to save Jean-Guy from dying in an explosion that has been rigged. But, Jean-Guy, realizing that Gamache does love him, turns up, and is forced to shoot Gamache to stop him from entering the schoolhouse, and blowing himself up when he opens the door.

The final scenes of the wedding and reception for Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Annie Gamache are set in Three Pines after Gamache’s recuperation and Jean-Guy’s stint in rehab. And, even though Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache have retired to Three Pines, Reine-Marie informs Jean-Guy that Armand might retire, but he can’t quit.

Favorite Quotation

My favorite quote now is not one I would have picked a year ago when I first read How the Light Gets In. It’s actually Ruth’s statement to Jean-Guy when he brings Francouer’s forces to Three Pines. In talking about Rosa, Ruth actually talks about so much more, as she often does. She talks about Jean-Guy, and, now we know, she talks about the next book in the series, hinting at future events.

Ruth says, “She took the long way home. Some do, you know. They seem lost. Sometimes they might even head off in the wrong direction. Lots of people give up, saying they’re gone forever, but I don’t believe that. Some make it home, eventually.”

Discussion Questions

1. Did you anticipate the brazen plot Renard had hatched? Before reading it, what did you think the plot was all about?

2. Let’s talk about the Ouellette storyline. Who did you think the killer was, and why?

3. My favorite scene in the book wasn’t the wedding, but the moment after Thérèse Brunel opens the door to find Myrna there to take them to a safe place, and sees Clara, Gabri, Olivier, and Ruth and Rosa. “The end of the road.” What was your favorite moment in the book, and why?

4. Who showed the most courage in the book, and why? Gamache, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, the villagers? Someone else?

5. What did you think was happening when Gamache told Lacoste he was resigning?

6. Talk about “Old sins have long shadows.”

7. What do Ruth and Rosa mean to you?

8. In a book with so many surprises, which one stood out for you?

Discussion on “How the Light Gets In, Part 2”

For me, the eeriest (and saddest, and funkiest) moments came as Gamache’s visit/interview with André Pineault drew to a close. André had murdered at least two of his older quintuplet sisters. He had stayed with their father, sharing his bleak and uncommunicative last years, and he believed the miracle birth had ruined his parents’ lives, cut him off from his sisters, and relegated him to obscurity and an alias. He was the excluded outlier.

I believe he murdered all five. It was artful of the author to end the scene at his home with the very un-home-cooked bad food on the counter, to refrain from following up with exhumations, more research, arrest, charges, prosecution, and trial.

Although Armand would have had compassion for the younger brother for whom the tuque was knitted, I am certain that the Chief’s package for Isabelle LaCoste would have led her to go after André and bring him to justice after Gamache’s retirement.

It’s 2020 and I just finished “How the Light Gets In.” I found all of the comments interesting, but I felt there was an unfinished thread. Did the brother Andre become arrested? I couldn’t find anything that happened to him. Would it have been too difficult to find him as murderer? I think one person in your comments asked about what happened to Andre.

WHAT happened to brother André? And, it’s just not clear why he felt the need to kill Constance? Was it JUST to not reveal to the world the precious family secret? WHY would care enough to kill? He was at the end of his life. It seems a flimsy motive…

What happened to the Quints killer? Was he caught?. I think I missed that part. I know it was “ the uncle” brother. But did he get arrested?

No one has commented the reason LP does not address assigning the 4 cadets: Amiele, Hfiufen, Nathaniel or Jaques: to find out WHO knew the actual story, that they got all the materials required to measure and to complete the stained glass images in St Thomas’ Church in Three Pines,; that image which allowed tracking and decoding the meaning of the symbols on that early orienteer’s map and learning WHO that map was meant for — that same person who would know what the symbols were. WHO completed the Historical Colored-Glass picture, that showed all the answers???

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Not sure if anyone still reading here but I couldn’t wait. I wanted to savour but I devoured in one gulp. Which is good perhaps, because now I can take my time and reread and ponder and put together the subtle nuances they lie within the big picture as a whole.

Enjoy everyone and thank goodness, and Paul, that we have four whole weeks to talk some more.

Anna, like you I couldn’t read a chapter or two at the time. I read it all. Now I’ll reread too.
Can’t wait for discussion of some of the plot lines. I’m going to have to be very careful not to write spoilers.

Me, too! I’ve just come back from the Seattle event at Third Place Books! Louise was wonderful – such a great speaker. She was so entertaining, and I am so glad I went!

Julie, I thought about you this evening (as I sit in San Diego) because I remembered that you said you would be there. Glad you had fun!

Here’s more on the plans for THE LONG WAY HOME.


Each week we’ll open a conversation on specific chapters (see below). These discussions will be open (not moderator driven) and a place for you all to discuss and discover the book as you read it together. We do ask that you stick to the schedule and please DO NOT POST SPOILERS from future chapters.

September 2nd: Chapters 1-10
September 8th: Chapters 11-20
September 15th: Chapters 21-30
September 22nd: Chapters 31-41

Enjoy! You all are in for a real treat!

THANKS. My husband is at B&N to pick up my copy. I haven’t enjoyed reading with a group as much since the days of B&N university ( I think was the name).

P.S. Paul, can you give us the usual two weeks before the discussion starts? Most of the comments are posted in the first few days after the discussion opens, and that would give everyone a chance to be on the same page (pun intended!). Thanks!

Paul Hochman – will we be able to use this forum to discuss The Long Way Home? Pleeeeeeeze? I’m sure many of us will be able to start talking about it one week after the launch, and others can avoid spoilers, maybe, by only dropping by after they’ve finished reading?

It certainly looks like it is set up for the book group for the next book. I just checked checked the link but of course it isn’t up yet. I think we will all be here for a couple of weeks yet.

I hope we can continue our discussion! I feel as if I snuck in late and I’m standing in a closed bistro – lights turned off, everything set up for morning – hearing the echoes of our wonderful conversations. Maybe this could be turned into an ongoing forum, with sections for comments on each book? I’ll bring the licorice pipes…

Oh my! I’ve been so busy, I have not had time to ‘discuss’ the second half of the book! I’ve enjoyed all your comments and agree so much with your thoughts. I feel like you are all sisters! What a trip! That book left me emotionally drained! I too, have pre-ordered from Amazon, but no notice yet about shipping! Boo-hoo!!

There were actually whole books where I missed discussions because life got in the way. I tried to make up for it with the last couple. Hopefully we will all be here over the next two weeks. But dang if I don’t have to work. And Cathryne has her grand baby……somehow we will all find the time I am sure.

I too want to thank everyone for a wonderful book club experience. Even though I haven’t commented much it has been wonderful to listen to others insights. I just finished the re-read a few moments ago (with lots of Kleenex) since we have just returned from a visit with our newest grand-daughter, born on Aug 8 in Sudbury, ON. We haven’t heard from Meg for a while in this group and I hope that she is busy with life but will soon have some comments….as I’m also hoping the group will continue. I just bought my own paperback copy of How the Light Gets In and am first in line at the Fraser Hickson Library for the new book. Maybe we will make a little excursion to the Eastern Townships to check out Hovey Manor. Will look for you all there.

Yes, Nancy, I was missing Meg too! I noticed she hasn’t been with us for How the Light Gets In. The group grew to be quite a size, with new people joining in. I gather a group is set up to re-read before the launch of each new book, so several people have probably read the books many times. I’m relatively new – I just joined at The Murder Stone – and I have learned such a lot from all your comments. I do hope to meet you all again next time around, and hopefully we can make an arrangement for a get-together at Hovey Manor. The only difficulty is, no one has access to any of our email addresses, so through this forum is the only way we can contact one another. And we would definitely want to have Louise with us! Anyway, we’ll just get a sense of how many might want or be able to come, perhaps for a long weekend, and whether next summer would work. Just another fun daydream!! Thanks everyone!!

I’d like to add my thanks to all of yours! This book group has been a wonderful experience – reading so many thoughtful, literary comments from you all, and feeling the deep love that Louise Penny inspires in her readers. I’d like to think that we have created a virtual Three Pines of our own!

I canceled my Amazon order for “The Long Way Home,” and ordered it from The Poisoned Pen bookstore. Not only will I get an autographed copy of the book, but I get to say “thank you” to Barbara Peters for participating in this discussion.

Wishing you all good reading-


Ah, thanks Anna! As a book addict, I tend toward the lowest prices, but I make sure to buy some books from independent bookstores. (Plus, it gives me a great excuse to buy books on any occasion when I’m actually in an independent bookstore!)

I might have learned the most when I disagreed vehemently with someone, because I had to try to decide why I felt so sure they were wrong, often needing to change perspectives radically. So powerful!

Defending a position with insight can be a powerful, and courageous way to discover what you really believe. Mounting a defence iningnorance, not so much.

Darn, I was editing the mistakes when I accidentally posted! I meant ‘in ignorance’.

I was going to add that I was pleased the arguments here were respectful and well thought out. Having opposing positions is to be expected, it’s nice when we can enjoy them.

Cathryne, have fun juggling grand baby while reading the next book. I think it would be good to start early and read aloud to the Bub. Just substitute quacks for the swear words!

Yes Anna, It was good to discuss different viewpoints and opinions, even very strong ones, as adults who respected each other. We can disagree on some points and still enjoy discussions and learn from others.
Tuesday will soon be here—-can’t wait.

Oops, I put the above in the wrong place. It belongs at the bottom of page 2 after Anna and Sylvia’s comments about language.

Doesn’t matter Cathryne. I find I am scrolling back over all the comments, savouring it all for as long as possible.

So am I, Anna. I wish we could continue to post and share our reading of The Long Way Home.
This has been different from any reading experience I have had – including local book clubs. It wasn’t just that we were reading the same books but that they were books we had chosen ourselves. We already loved Louise’s writing and were attached to her characters, including the village of Three Pines.
I want to thank everyone who has participated. I not only enjoyed our exchange of views and insights but I learned to look more deeply and carefully at books I already treasured. I also learned more about Canada and her history and peoples.
A heartfelt thank you to Louise Penny and Minotaur Publishers.
If a get together occurs at Hovey Manor, I will be the short, stout, white haired, bespectacled, lady saying “Hi, Ya’ll”. So for now I’ll say “Bye Ya’ll.

I also liked being able to read comments, think about them, come back to them and frame my thoughts. I wouldn’t say nearly as much or as clearly in real life. Still I would love to talk to you all on a leisurely afternoon by the fire.

And it’s not over yet….although we have to get the book, read the book and digest. Most of us had already read the other books, more than once in many cases. Wonder how reading a book cold will affect our responses. That will make it more like a traditional book club except, of course, we have our extensive and now learned background in the subject of Louise Penny’s writing. I expect the publishers to issue us with certificates in “Penny” to certify our study!

Now how to organise a Master’s course in the subject…..

A big thank you to everyone.

Anna, I would not have been able to organize my thoughts as well in a flesh and blood group either, even though I love the idea of getting together somewhere like Hovey Manor. This has been such a pleasure and a chance to learn and gain insight into my responses to the books, which I had already read and listened to several times, some more than others. When I reread the more painful books or parts instead of allowing myself to skip to the next favorite, I learned from what I had resisted. Those parts were important too. Because of this discussion about the first nine books, I know that I will read the next one with more perception and enjoyment.

Just a tip- Don’t try to post a meaningful comment while taking care of a seriously adorable grandbaby; it doesn’t work.

Yes, Anna, Louise Penny’s books are deceptively simple and readable. I know what you mean about books that feel like the author is trying too hard. It’s distracting and annoying. I love her command of language, graceful and so right on target. Her humor is such a delight because her timing is perfect and prepared for far in advance. It’s often the kind that is hard to share with someone else because “You had to be there.”

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