Postcards from Three Pines: A Trick of the Light

A Trick of the Light Postcard
“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

  1. Patricia Tracy says:

    Reading this quote brought tears to my eyes – because I know the real value of those portraits, and know what will happen to Jean Guy and Annie and the subjects of the portraits. Great love rises through great pain.

  2. Gail says:

    As one who works in a 12 step recovery ministry, I especially love this book and how cool that the leaping off point came from a conversation with Michael.

  3. Ronda Earenfight says:

    This is why I read Louise Penny. Just a few sentences go so deep into her characters and touch a chord in my emotions.

  4. Nancy O'Connell says:

    I read all 13 books from Dec. 2017 to April 2018. When I was reading #9, my husband found ” The Hangman” which I enjoyed because of the history that went with it. I had bought#12… but wanted to read 1 first… so glade I started at the beginning. Thank you, I enjoy your “3 Pine’s family”.

  5. Alice Briggs says:

    Every Three Pines postcard makes me want to start the series all over! Your rich character development makes us feel so invested in the village’s inhabitants. They are friends we wish we could meet!

    • Marne says:

      Absolutely! I wish Reine Marie could come over for coffee.

    • Aganita Varkentine says:

      So true, and every time I do reread the books, I see more connections and foreshadowings of things to come. Little things that do not seem important at the time, but when you have read later books in the series, they are very relevant.

  6. Nancy says:

    Each of these postcards elicits a memory for me. As though I was there, a part of the community. I have my own internal vision of Three Pines. The place comes alive for me while reading these, and I see the snippet unfolding before me. Thank you Ms. Penny for your creation. Each character and scene so fully realized that I have made my own Three Pines a reality in my mind. I love to go there

  7. al dussault says:

    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”

  8. Ceil McDonald says:

    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.

  9. Bettie says:

    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.

  10. Bettie says:

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

  11. Grace says:

    I wish Three Pines were a real place, I would live there.

  12. 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 !!

  13. JILL says:

    Bravo. Another one I couldn’t put down.

  14. Julia M Vilardi says:

    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.

  15. penny bews says:

    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.

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