Postcards from Three Pines: A Trick of the Light

Postcards from Three Pines: A Trick of the Light

“Have you ever heard of the term “chiaroscuro”? Michael told me about it after his art class yesterday. It means the play of light and dark. Am thinking of making that a theme in the book I’m about to start – hmmm.”


Merde,” shouted a man into the ear of the woman beside him, trying to raise his voice above the din of conversation. “This stuff is shit. Can you believe Clara Morrow got a solo show?”

The woman beside him shook her head and grimaced. She wore a flowing skirt and a tight T-shirt with scarves wrapped around her neck and shoulders. Her earrings were hoops and each of her fingers held rings. In another place and time she’d have been considered a gypsy. Here she was recognized for what she was. A mildly successful artist.

Beside her her husband, also an artist and dressed in cords and a worn jacket with a rakish scarf at the neck, turned back to the painting.


“Poor Clara,” agreed his wife. “The critics’ll savage her.”

Jean Guy Beauvoir, who was standing beside the two artists, his back to the painting, turned to glance at it. On the wall among a cluster of portraits was the largest piece. Three women, all very old, stood together in a group, laughing. They looked at each other, and touched each other, holding each other’s hands, or gripping an arm, tipping their heads together. What ever had made them laugh, it was to each other they turned. As they equally would if something terrible had happened. As they naturally would whatever happened.

More than friendship, more than joy, more than even love this painting ached of intimacy.

Jean Guy quickly turned his back on it. Unable to look. He scanned the room until he found her again.

“Look at them,” the man was saying, dissecting the portrait. “Not very attractive.”

Annie Gamache was across the crowded gallery, standing next to her husband, David. They were listening to an older man. David looked distracted, disinterested. But Annie’s eyes were bright. Taking it in. Fascinated.

Beauvoir felt a flash of jealousy, wanting her to look at him that way. Here, Beauvoir’s mind commanded. Look over here.

“And they’re laughing,” said the man behind Beauvoir, looking disapprovingly at Clara’s portrait of the three old women. “Not much nuance in that. Might as well paint clowns.”

The woman beside him snickered.

Across the room, Annie Gamache laid a hand on her husband’s arm, but he seemed oblivious.

Beauvoir put his hand on his own arm, gently. That’s what it would feel like.

Discussion on “Postcards from Three Pines: A Trick of the Light”

Love your books! What a wonderful series. I bought Glass Houses but realized I need to start with Still Life after researching a bit. So glad I did. Love seeing the characters develop. I am currently reading A Trick of the Light. Savoring every one. Will see you in Ann Arbor & get your latest. Can’t wait.

I have told soooo many people about these books. I hope they take me seriously and check them out. Louise Penny, you are fabulous! I just wish you could write as fast as I read! Thank you!

In my tiny apartment, have saved all your books. After your last postcard, started re-reading Bury Your Dead. Some things ARE better the second time around.

I enjoy reading all the comments, but not as much as the books of course. I am rereading the series and have just finished “The Murder Stone”. As someone said, you pick up so many items that you know what they are leading to in future books. November is coming! If possible visit Knowlton in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. It and they are very scenic & you might be lucky to meet the very gracious Louise Penny as my daughter & I did.

Each Louise Penny book opens a different part of my heart , and warms it with love and laughter . Someone please start a
B & B in a small warm town near the Canadian -American border . Quaint, filled with special shops and friendly good hearted people! Fans would flock to visit the Three Pines Square!!

Just returned from a glorious weekend in the Townships with my daughter (also a 3 Pines fan). We stopped at La Rumeur Affamee boulangerie in Sutton and the General Store in North Hatley. Hovey Manor was even more wonderful than expected and I could see spending many hours in the Library, enjoying the warmth from the fireplace, gazing at Lake Massawippi and reading my beloved Louise Penny books. From there we went to the Abbey (so peaceful despite the crowds) and on to Knowlton. The Brome County Historical Society & Museum is delightful and filled with artifacts that give one a solid picture of the history of this area. Then on to Le Relais Restaurant and Bistro to pretend we would spot Gabri and Olivier and be welcomed by our friends Clara, Myrna and Ruth. And of course, the grand finale – Brome Lake Books! I am considering a yearly trip — the same way I reread my Gamache series every year — perhaps a different season each time. One can only dream.

Currently I am re-reading the series which I started a long time ago and have now just reached “A trick of the light” so how serendipitous (if that is a word) to receive this postcard.
Upon re-reading, the depth of the character development and insight into humankind really jumps out; just mesmerizing. Merci Louise Penny.

I wish that I could get into a car and drive to Three Pines .
Then I could sit on that beach and ‘ live ‘ my way through each book again !
Thanks for the wonderful views , Ms. Penny .

How didI miss this book! I thought I had read them all! I wish Three Pines was real – I would dearly love to live there. You have made all the characters so real – not perfect. That is why we take them so to heart – we have warts and so do they. I am also such a fan of the Shetland series – is it true that it is ending? May I also recommend the Charles Todd mystery series wit Scotland Yard detective Ian Rutledge. Spellbindingera of WWI. Laurie King also for the Mary Russell, Aherlock Holmes series and for wonderful Scandinavian writers, noticibly Jussie Adler Olsen and his Dept Q series. You are all so very talented – love Your series the best Louise and would love to meet you. Thanks so much for your wonderful work!

I have trying to describe Louise Penny’s books to friends . Ceil McDonald states it perfectly . Literature that happens to have a detective as a character .

I am filled with such warmth when these post cards arrive in my email. I have read all of the books in the series. Some several times. I also have many of the books on CD. I listen while I knit. I find that after multiple hearings I learn more about Gamache that I haven’t learned before. I find the warmth of the human spirit revealed lift my spirits during low times. VIVA GAMACHE.

Your postcards are such a pleasure to read. Bringing a rush of memories from reading the book. The characters so woven into my memory, as to seem family and friends. Thank you for your wonderful books. They charm, and bewitch.

I have come late as a fan of your books. My Canadian cousin recommended them to me and I picked up “The Long Way Home”, not knowing it was in a series. I liked it but realized I needed to start with book #1. This past summer I had the chance to to do just that, and I have just finished #13. I love your wonderful characterizations of the good people of Three Pines and I want to go there and meet them all. I can’t wait till #14, but will be left hungry for more when I am finished. I guess you could say I am an addict. I am buying them all for my e-reader so I can start the series again. I only put books there that I love, and there are only a few. You join a select group: Donna Galbadon and Pat Conroy. Please keep on writing.

I just started reading A Trick Of The Light after ordering it as it wasn’t in the store. I had to find something else to read while I waited for it to arrive as I won’t allow myself to read ahead. Couldn’t wait to start it. I missed my Three Pines family. I thoroughly enjoy this series and can’t wait to sit down for a read !!

Last word above, of course, should be contentment! And typically the error is in a word, my focus when reading this postcard!

It is not just the stories! Individual words are so often special in the books. As in the message on this postcard contains “chiaruscuro”, there are such subtle plays in her words to give the printed page life. This book may be my favorite and will come up next in my series reread. Oh what I would give for a long quiet visit with Louise Penny!The conversation could ramble and fill me with joy or maybe just content.

I love the world and the characters that Louise Penny has created, but I especially love “A Trick of the Light”. I am a fan of well-written detective series, in general, but no other writer in the genre matches her depth of characters and insight into human nature. In this book, when Clara and Peter had that deep conversation in bed where finally Peter’s jealousy of his wife’s success came out, and his admission that it was her faith that caused him to feel that way, I literally had to put the book down because I was blinded by my tears. Ms Penney is not a mystery writer. Rather, her work is literature that happens to have a detective as a character.

I have just returned from another visit to my beloved Canada…I love spending a weekend in the “Cantons” and I particularly enjoy wondering what of what I see becoming an inspiration for another Three Pines novel. I enjoy the characters, the depth of wisdom, and the depth of greed and envy, and almost any intense feeling is revealed. I like North Hatley and want to go back to Knowlton and St. Benoit Abbey. I loved the sign in Knowlton: “we are three pines friendly”

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